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Weber State basketball: Wildcats face tough road test

Published: Friday, Jan. 7 2011 9:46 p.m. MST

Weber's Head Coach Randy Rahe screams at a referee.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Losing Damian Lillard to a season-ending injury is one reason Weber State has started Big Sky play slowly.

The schedule hasn't helped, either.

The Wildcats will play their third straight road game to open conference play when they face Northern Arizona tonight. Weber State is 0-2 in the Big Sky for the first time in coach Randy Rahe's tenure after making the difficult Montana trip last week.

It's never easy to win at Northern Arizona, and the Wildcats will be facing a typical Lumberjacks team. NAU can shoot and put up points, as it leads the Big Sky in field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage. The Lumberjacks also lead the conference in rebounding margin per game.

"They are the best overall shooting team in our league," Rahe said. "They can score deep and can score at the bucket."

Northern Arizona is led by Big Sky veteran Cameron Jones, who averages 18 points per game. Point guard Stallon Saldivar, a former state MVP from Judge Memorial, is the Big Sky's assists leader.

Both players had huge roles in Northern Arizona's 82-80 overtime win over Idaho State on Thursday. Jones scored 31 of his 37 points after halftime. Saldivar had a career-high 13 assists with no points and no turnovers. Saldivar's 3.54 assist-turnover ratio is sixth-best in the nation.

Northern Arizona is unbeaten at home — even while playing away from the friendly confines of the Walkup Skydome. The Lumberjacks are playing in the tiny Rolle Activity Center this season while the Skydome is renovated. They drew 607 fans to their game against Idaho State.

The Wildcats need to be efficient offensively to keep pace with the Lumberjacks. Only Lindsey Hughey and Scott Bamforth average scoring in double figures. Hughey averages 11.5 points per game and Bamforth 10.9.

After tonight, Weber State finally opens home conference play next week. The Wildcats host Sacramento State on Thursday and rival Idaho State on Saturday.

Wildcats on the air

Weber State (6-7, 0-2 Big Sky) at Northern Arizona (9-6, 1-2)

Tonight, 6:35 p.m.

Rolle Activity Center, Flagstaff, Ariz.

TV: none

Radio: 1430 AM

e-mail: aaragon@desnews.com

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