OGDEN, Utah – The Northern Arizona men's basketball team continues its four-game road stretch Thursday against league-leading Weber State. Tipoff against the Wildcats starts at 7:05 p.m. from the Dee Events Center.
"They are the best team we will play from here on out," said Head Coach Jack Murphy. "They are an outstanding group of players and coaches. Coach Rahe has done an unbelievable job and they are loaded."
The Wildcats are 11-3 overall and 6-0 in Big Sky play following Monday's 70-54 win at Idaho State and put a seven-game winning streak on the line against the Lumberjacks. They have an experienced team led by senior forward Scott Bamforth, who became the 27th player in Weber State history to reach 1,000 career points in the win over Idaho State.
Despite losing Damian Lillard to the NBA last season, the Wildcats return four players with 40 or more games played.
"They lost a lottery pick but probably got better as a team," said Murphy. "The sum is greater than the parts for Weber State. They have experience in Bamforth, who is a great shooter. They have some youth in Joel Bolomboy, who is a great freshman. They also have talent on the perimeter so they make it very difficult to game plan for them. They are good at home."
NAU is coming off a performance where they shot a season-high 56.4 percent from the field against Portland State last Saturday. It was the fourth game shooting 50 or better from the field this season and snapped a streak of six consecutive games shooting 41 percent or lower.
"We shared the basketball as well as we have in a while," said Murphy. "We really moved the basketball and Portland State could not key in on one person. We did a good job of finding different people on the offensive end. The bigs also did a good job of passing and finishing. We are excited how our offense looked on Saturday and how it can grow."
NAU had four players in double figures in the contest against the Vikings.
"The toughest game Weber State has had in conference was on the road at Portland State where they won in overtime," said Murphy. "I thought we competed with Portland State. We are looking to go up there and compete."
Over the last three seasons the Wildcats are 33-3 at the Dee Events Center. In the seven seasons under Coach Randy Rahe, the Wildcats are 81-12 in home games, including a 46-4 home record in Big Sky regular season games.
"We have played in tough environments this year and we have played on the road against talented teams," said Murphy. "We are prepared in that regard. How is our mental mindset to play the best team in the conference on the road? That is what we have to prepare for on Thursday."
Weber State leads the all-time series with the Lumberjacks 69-26 and boasts a 41-6 advantage in Ogden. The Wildcats have won the last eight meetings in the series. Weber State ranks in the top 20 in the nation in six statistical categories, and is in the top 10 in four of them. The Wildcats are seventh in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage and 3-point field-goal percentage defense. WSU is also eighth in scoring margin and field-goal percentage, 15th in scoring offense and 18th in field-goal percentage defense.