The Vandals were humming along for much of Wednesday night in their CollegeInsider.com tournament opener. But with the punch UC Santa Barbara has on offense, “it was just a matter of time” before the Gauchos closed the gap, Idaho coach Don Verlin said.
Sure enough, UCSB rallied. But this time the Vandals responded to collect their 19th win of the year.
Our game story is here. Initially Verlin thought the Vandals would play at Loyola Marymount in the second round — in fact, he had started some advance scouting of LMU before Wednesday's game — but Idaho will play at Utah State on Saturday night. Meanwhile, LMU will play Weber State.
This will be the third matchup between Idaho and Utah State this year. Idaho won in Moscow and fell apart in the second half in the second matchup in Logan. Of course, these clubs know each other well, and not just because they are both in the WAC. Verlin spent 15 years as an assistant under Stew Morrill, and senior guard Deremy Geiger started his career at USU before transferring to Idaho.
A few notes of interest:
UCSB coach Bob Williams said he was fine with the shot James Nunnally took that would have tied the game with under 10 seconds left. Landon Tatum played solid defense on the perimeter and Nunnally's 3-point attempt was a bit forced. “Well, inside 10 (seconds), you’ve gotta take something,” Williams said. “And (Nunnally) had a pretty good hand going that second half, so it didn’t bother me if it was Nun, (Kyle Boswell) or Orlando (Johnson). What we were more interested in was getting a good look than we were which guy shooting it.”
Williams was asked if he was glad not to have to travel to Moscow every year like his team used to when both teams were in the Big West. “Especially after this trip, yes. This is a great reminder of why I’m glad they moved into a different league — although it’s one of better shooting performances in the Kibbie Dome. I like the changed they’ve made to it.”
The Vandals were outrebounded by 13 in the second half after leading in that category, 20-15, at the break. “They overpowered us in the second half,” Verlin said.
Asked about the quick turnaround in the tournament, Verlin said, “There’s no time to sleep now. We’ll sleep next week.”