Idaho coach Don Verlin will tell you the last week has been great for the Vandals. But it won't be nearly as sweet if they slip-up tonight.
The Vandals' season-turning wins over Nevada and New Mexico State were remarkable on a number of levels, not least of which was how UI was playing coming into last Saturday's game at Reno. But the Vandals, at 14-11 and 6-4 in the WAC, have a whole new perspective on the last few weeks of the season.
They are third in the conference, just a half-game behind NMSU and 2.5 games behind Nevada. Right behind them is Hawaii and Utah State.
So it's packed at the top of the standings, and Idaho clearly can't afford a letdown. Not with its last three WAC games after tonight on the road -- at Utah State, Hawaii and San Jose State.
"Huge win," UI coach Don Verlin said after Thursday night's victory over New Mexico State. "You can’t rest on your laurels. You can’t give this one back Saturday night."
It's fairly safe to assume the Vandals, if they want to keep pace with NMSU for a possible second seed in the WAC tournament (Nevada looks safe at the top), need to take care of business against La. Tech. They beat the Bulldogs in Ruston on Jan. 12, but that was an overtime game -- a wild overtime game.
La. Tech plays a different style than most other teams in the WAC. They apply lots of defensive pressure and take very quick shots, in essence trying to create more possessions.
UI struggled with turnovers at La. Tech -- it had 18 to the Bulldogs' 14 -- and against NMSU, the club struggled to get into their offensive sets at times as well. The key is how point guard Landon Tatum handles the pressure: he had six turnovers on Thursday and four last time against La. Tech.