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Take a glance to the left at the Big Sky Conference men's basketball standings after one week of league play.

Two teams are 1-0, two are 0-1 and the rest are 1-1. Home teams won three games. Visiting teams won three games.

Get used to it. There's probably as much separation in the league standings now as there will be for the rest of the season.

One of the surprise losers in the first week of league play was defending champion Weber State. Idaho State snapped the Wildcats' winning streak in Big Sky regular-season games at 15 with a 75-74 win in Pocatello on Saturday night.

"I've said all along, I think this group of kids thought it was going to be easy after (going 14-0 in conference) last year," Weber State coach Joe Cravens told the Ogden Standard-Examiner. "But it's never easy and it's certainly not going to get any easier."

Idaho State's 6-foot-10 junior center Jesse Smith hit a key 15-foot jumper as the shot clock expired to give the Bengals a 74-69 lead late in the game.

The Wildcats were within 75-72 with less than 10 seconds to play when senior guard John Hamilton brought the ball up court looking for his specialty, a 3-pointer. But ISU's Jeff Gardner fouled Hamilton before he had the opportunity to shoot.

Hamilton made the first of two free throws, then intentionally tried to miss the second, hoping Weber could get the rebound and a game-tying put-back. Hamilton shot the ball hard, but it missed the rim, hit the backboard and swished through the net. The Bengals were able to run out the clock.

"Funny things happen," ISU coach Doug Oliver told the Standard-Examiner. "(Hamilton) tries to miss that free throw and it goes in. If it comes off hard, we lose the jumping contest. So maybe it was fortunate for us it went in."

Idaho State had lost to Weber in 14 of their last 15 meetings.

The Bengals warmed up for Big Sky play with easy wins over Frontier Conference schools, topping 100 points in each of the games.

Their 108-85 win over Montana-Western didn't come without a little pain, however.

Midway through the second half Western guard Derek Hibbert, a Missoula Sentinel grad, tripped over Aaron Bradley while coming off a screen. Hibbert got up and punched Bradley in the stomach and was promptly ejected.

"I can't remember being hit that hard in my entire life," Bradley told the Idaho State Journal. "I was on the ground and couldn't breathe. (Hibbert) apologized to me after the game. That speaks highly of him and the team. He just got caught up in the game."

Northern Arizona got off to its quickest start in three years by beating Sacramento State 80-73 on the road Saturday night. The Jacks started 0-4 last year and 0-3 the season before.

The Jacks scored 10 straight points midway through the second half to wipe out a 56-54 Hornet lead.

Known for their outside shooting, the Lumberjacks went inside to Adrian Hayes and freshman Ruben Boykin to key the run. Hayes finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Boykin added 11 points. The duo helped NAU to a 41-30 edge in rebounding.

"Ruben had a great game," NAU coach Mike Adras told the Arizona Daily Sun. "He was emotional. We need an emotional Ruben Boykin out there on the court."

Weber's Cravens is still the best quote in the league.

After his team failed to get the message about playing good defense and taking smart shots, Cravens had this to say to the Standard-Examiner:

"You can preach and preach and preach. But the best preacher in the world can't reach the guy in the back row if he's sound asleep."

Montana State turned the ball over 43 times in its first two league games, but still came away with a split on the road.

The Bobcats allowed Portland State to score the first eight points of the game before rallying to beat the Vikings, 61-54, for the seventh straight time.

But Montana State saw its six-game winning streak end two nights later at Eastern Washington, 70-55.

Marc Axton, held scoreless for the first time in 62 games two nights before by Montana, was 7-for-11 from the field for a team-high 19 points against the Cats.

"My goal is to play (Axton) tough," MSU forward Danny Faaborg told the Bozeman Chronicle. "We're about the same size and we both like to shoot the three. I thought it would be a good matchup, but it slipped away from me a little bit."

Axton was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc while Faaborg was just 1-for-4. The Cats made just 2-of-18 from long range for the game.

Fastbreaks: With just two non-conference games remaining, the Big Sky is 47-57 against non-league foes, 33-57 against Division I teams. Last year the Big Sky was 55-54 in non-league games. The best season was 1981-82 when league teams went 62-39. … Portland State has 26 dunks this season after having just 25 all last season. Five came in the Vikings' 89-78 win over Montana on Saturday. … Sacramento State has been outrebounded 93-65 in its last two games. … The Big Sky ranks 22nd out of 25 conferences in the latest RPI standings. Weber State is the highest rated team at No. 159.

Sports editor Bob Meseroll can be reached at 523-5265 or by e-mail at sportsdesk@missoulian.com.

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