It would surprise most people around the league if this game was really close, even though the Bengals are 6-4 in conference. PSU beat them by 10 in Pocatello, and Matt Stucki went for 26 in that game. It is possible he can equal that effort, but in all likelihood that wonâ€™t be enough to pull off what would be a major upset. The only way the Bengals can win this one is if the Vikings beat themselves. We have seen it happen this year, but not recently. Games that come to mind are the awful home meltdown against San Jose State, and the road loss to Eastern Washington. The current rotation for the Viks is a very confident one, and for good reason.
ISU: Lucas Steijn PSU: Scott Morrison
This match-up was ugly the last time around. Morrison had a very solid all-around game while holding Steijn to just 3 points and 3 rebounds. I donâ€™t see much changing. Steijn has only averaged 7.3 points and 3.3 rebounds all season. The other option for the Bengals, Demetrius Monroe, has rebounded a bit better, but is no more of an offensive threat. In fact, ISU doesnâ€™t really have any post presence, so PSU may be able to put a little more pressure on the wing players.
ISU: Logan Kinghorn PSU: Kyle Coston
ISU tends to go with a 4 guard lineup, one of which being Kinghorn. However, he is the best rebounder, so he will likely match-up on whoever the Vikings have inside other than Morrison. He only managed one rebound in their first game, but he only played for 17 minutes. He has outplayed Coston in every offensive category so far this year, but in their head to head match-up he had no points and just one rebound. Factor in Alex Tiefenthalerâ€™s 16 points in the first game, and PSU dominated at this position. You have to figure that Kinghorn will be able to fare a little better in the second game.
ISU: Amorrow Morgan PSU: Deonte Huff
Morgan had a very solid second half the first game. He had a tough time in the first half, but was able to salvage 11 points. The sophomore may become one of the better players in the conference in years to come. Like Huff, he has the ability to score in many ways. All that said, I have to again give the advantage to the consistent senior. He has been solid for the Vikings all year, and there has been no indication that he will do anything less in the future. At home, he has been even better, averaging 15 points per game. Iâ€™ll take 15 against 10 any day.
ISU: Austin Kilpatrick PSU: Andre Murray
If Kilpatrick is going to beat Murray, it will be with his size. At 6â€™6â€ he may be the tallest player Murray has to match up against. If Murray is going to win, heâ€™ll have to beat Kilpatrick with his quickness and athleticism. As PSU should have the inside advantage in this game, Murray will be allowed to stick to the role of shooter, unless the game gets close. He has shot the ball well at home, and has adapated well to a starting role. With no clear advantage in this one, weâ€™ll have to see what wins out.
ISU: Matt Stucki PSU: Jeremiah Dominguez
Stucki may be the one player who gives Dominguez serious problems defensively. Dominguez has been great all year, but the 6â€™6â€ Stucki is a full foot taller than Dominguez. This match-up is an accented version of the one at shooting guard. Height and power versus speed and quickness. Here, I give the advantage to Stucki based on their outputs in the first game. Dominguez was able to hit right on his averages, but Stucki was great, going for 26 points.
The Vikings have the advantage here. The Bengals have three bench players who average 5 or more points per game, but none who is a real threat to go for a bunch of points. At home, the Viking bench players just tend to do better. Alex Tiefenthaler had 16 points the first time around against ISU, and will try to duplicate that on Thursday. Other players may see extended time, as they did against Sac State, if this game has the kind of spread one would expect.
I am hard pressed to predict the score in this one. The teams hit right on their season averages in the first match-up. On Thursday, the question is whether the Vikings are looking past ISU to their weekend match-up with Weber State. If so, this could be a close game. Both Amorrow Morgan and Matt Stucki are very solid players. I donâ€™t think the Vikings will have trouble here. The upperclassmen have pulled the team out of their tailspin, and really righted the ship. The role players should get their minutes, and save a major injury, the Viks should roll at home.
Prediction: PSU 76-60