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OGDEN -- The Weber State Wildcats (7-6, 1-0 Big Sky) are finished with their holiday and back home at the Dee Events Center to host the Bobcats of Montana State (7-5, 2-0 Big Sky) on New Year's Eve.
Weber State is coming into this game happy with their performance at the Basketball Traveler's Invitational in Logan last week. The Wildcats won two of their three games, losing only to Utah State in the championship, 85- 73.
One big positive came against Morehead State where the Wildcats rallied from a 20-point first half deficit to win 66-64.
"I was pleased with our efforts last week in Logan," said Head Coach Randy Rahe. "We fought through some adversity and played hard to the end and that is all you can ask."
Damian Lillard awoke from his scoring slumber during the Invitational scoring 20+ points in all three games, averaging 21.3 points.
Despite being the top rebounding team in the Big Sky heading into conference play, the Wildcats struggled against bigger and more athletic teams; something Rahe feels they need to work on.
"If there is concern right now it would rebounding. We didn't block out very well, especially in the last two games," Rahe noticed. "So we need to address that this week and get ourselves physically and mentally ready to attack every missed shot."
Montana State is coming off of a tough road loss against Boise State last week, losing 58-56. The Bobcats have already gotten their feet wet in the Big Sky defeating Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado.
Led by Bobby Howard, who is averaging 13.3 points a game, the Bobcats have a very well-balanced offense that features four players in double-digit scoring. Erik Rush is also just a shade above thirteen points a game. Branden Johnson and Marquis Navarre are averaging a just over ten point a game.
"They return four of their five starters and their two best bench players from last season, so they are a veteran team and they are off to a great start in league play," said Rahe, realizing the challenge his team is facing. "Obviously we know how well they can play."
The Last time these two teams met was in the Big Sky Conference postseason tournament when #6 ranked Montana State upset #1 ranked Weber State 70-61. In fact, the only team that Weber State lost to in the Big Sky last season was Montana State; losing a regular season game and the playoff game. Both losses came with the home-court advantage.
"Coach (Brad) Huse really stresses fundamental basketball 101," said Rahe. "By that I mean, they do all the little things well like blocking out, making good passes at the right time, pressure defense and not losing your man and running the offense with patience and a purpose which makes them hard to defend." Both teams will be looking to remain undefeated in the Big Sky. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m.