Something has clicked for the Idaho Vandals — and for Kyle Barone — over the last week. With Saturday night's 73-64 win over Louisiana Tech, the Vandals made it four wins in a row. Barone played a big part again in the victory.
Read on for more.
The Vandals kept pace with New Mexico State, which won 80-69 at Utah State. Nevada also beat San Jose State — no surprise there — so the standings at the top of the WAC remain the same. Idaho, at 15-11 and 7-4, is in third place, a half-game behind NMSU.
Idaho's last three WAC games are all on the road. It plays Portland State next Saturday in Moscow in a BracketBusters game.
Barone over the last five games has definitely stepped up his game. The 6-foot-10 junior has scored at least 14 points and grabbed at least seven rebounds in each of those contests. Saturday night, he had 14 points and 15 rebounds, which matched a career high.
Here's more from Idaho media relations:
MOSCOW, Idaho – Louisiana Tech made Idaho work for it, but the Vandals got a 73-64 victory on Saturday at Cowan Spectrum to give them a season-high four-game win streak.
Junior center Kyle Barone put together a third dominating performance this week with 14 points and a career-high-tying 15 rebounds, along with three blocks and one assist. The Vandals shot 54.5 percent as a team and completed their first season sweep of LA Tech in series history.
With the win, Idaho moves to 15-11 overall and 7-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, while Louisiana Tech loses its fourth in a row to go to 11-14 and 3-7 in WAC play.
“I thought it was a heck of a game,” Idaho head coach Don Verlin said. “We got what I expected from Louisiana Tech. I told our guys before the game, I thought they were the most improved team in the WAC this year.”
Barone earned his 10th career double-double in the game, which Idaho led nearly from wire to wire. LA Tech’s up-tempo, high-pressure style gave Idaho trouble and provided for some tense moments late in the game, especially when they tied it at 48-48, with 9:12 left to go.
“We made a little adjustment in our press breaker and we were able to execute better going down the stretch,” Verlin said. “I think that enabled us to win tonight.”
Idaho responded to the tie by scoring eight unanswered points, first on three free throws from senior Deremy Geiger, then a Djim Bandoumel baseline jumper and a Connor Hill three-ball. The hosts led by at least four from then on out and extended its advantage to as many as 12 points with just over one minute to play.
Idaho went 24-of-44 from the field and shot above 50 percent from the field for the third-consecutive conference game – all wins. The team is now 10-0 this season when hitting the standard. On the flip side, Idaho limited Tech to 23-of-57 (.440) shooting overall and 6-of-23 (.261) shooting from 3-point range.
The Vandals out-rebounded the Bulldogs, 35-24, and held a 34-28 scoring edge in the paint. Idaho also had eight second-chance points to Tech’s seven and the Vandal bench held an 18-14 scoring advantage.
In addition to Barone’s big night, Geiger put in 14 points on 3-of-4 shooting and made all seven of his free throw attempts. Senior guard Landon Tatum nailed a career-high three 3-pointers on four attempts and finished the game with 14 points. Hill came off the bench hit a long-range triple and convert and old-fashioned one for six points and three rebounds.
“I thought he (Barone) was very efficient down there tonight, as well as the New Mexico State game,” Verlin said. “I though he’s rebounded with extreme authority. If he’s not WAC Player of the Week this week, it’s a crying shame because he’s played with a lot of intensity.”
LA Tech guard Cordarius Johnson led all players with 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting, and also led the Bulldogs with seven rebounds. Key in the game was Idaho holding LTU leading scorer, freshman Raheem Appleby, without a point on 0-of-8 shooting.
“I thought we did a good job running Appleby off the 3-point line a lot tonight, because he was the leading scorer coming into the game for them,” Verlin said. “We did a very, very good job on him.”
Idaho has its final dip out of conference play in the regular season next Saturday when the team gets a well-deserved full week to prepare for Portland State in its Sears BracketBuster game. That game will tip off at 7:05 p.m. (PT) on Saturday, Feb. 18.