There may come a point when Lewis-Clark State's first two games of the conference season will look misleading. After all, the architecture of basketball is altered in ancient Warrior Gym, and Montanans never shoot as accurately away from their Big Sky country.
But this is the more likely conclusion: The Warriors are, without a doubt, the favorite in the Frontier Conference.
By a country mile.
On Saturday night, the 13th-ranked LCSC men obliterated well-regarded Montana-Western 115-56. Combined with their smashing of Montana Tech on Thursday, the Warriors (18-2 overall) now have an aggregate conference score of 211-116.
The Bulldogs (8-11, 1-1) were coming off a 60-57 road win over 33rd-ranked Westminster on Thursday. Although that battle and the grind of a Utah-Idaho road swing no doubt sapped their energy, they certainly aren't pushovers.
But L-C kept UMW nearly 40 points below its scoring average. Post Neil Christiaens, who is good for 18.4 points a night, managed just four.
"I thought we did a tremendous job on Neil tonight," said Warriors coach George Pfeifer, whose team has won 10 straight. "That was a tag-team effort. There were a lot of guys who got to him."
Actually, L-C got to almost all of the Bulldogs. They shot just 33.3 percent from the floor, including a 5-for-18 clip from their beloved 3-point line.
The Warriors didn't have any notable runs; rather, the entire game was one sustained rally. They led by 13 after 10 minutes, by 28 at halftime and by 48 with 10 minutes remaining.
All 13 LCSC players scored at least three points. The point guard tandem of Danny Allen and Ricky Frazier stockpiled 33 points and 13 assists between them. From insiders Martin Brothers, Adam Trombley and Dustin Endsley, the Warriors got 16, 16 and 10 points, respectively.
Brothers is the latest weapon to emerge. The 6-foot-8 transfer from Indianapolis, who became eligible at the end of the fall semester, is now averaging 11.8 points and 5.3 rebounds.
Having practiced with the team since August, Brothers said his transition to the active roster was smooth.
"Practice is like a game. We're always on each other's tails; we play each other hard like it's a game. We feel like, if we play like that against each other, nobody else is any competition, really."
Even Pfeifer, now in his 15th season, couldn't come up with a complaint.
"Hey, were there some things we could have done a little bit tighter? Yeah, but, good God -- 115-56. You'd sound like a pompous ass if you said, 'Well, we need to do this more.'
"What we need to do is bottle up the mentality that we had," Pfeifer said. "The glow in the locker room before the game is where the glow needs to be every night. And if we keep that, I think we're our own opponent."
So is this dominance for real? The Warriors will find out next week, when they travel to Helena, Mont., to face No. 18 Carroll College on Thursday.
Said Pfeifer, "After the game I said, 'Talk to the returning players about what we're about ready to go experience at Carroll in front of 4,000 people next Thursday night.' If you think for a second we can rest going in there ..."
Said Brothers, "I keep hearing all these stories about Montana and Carroll. ... The road is never going to be like home, so you always expect the worst on the road. You're not going to get that home cooking at all; you're not going to have your home crowd.
"But that's the fun of basketball," Brothers added. "That's why we play the games. I like for people to cheer against me anyway."
MONTANA-WESTERN (8-11, 1-1)
Day 1-3 3-3 5, Flatow 4-6 2-2 10, Christiaens 2-9 0-1 4, Hibbert 3-7 2-2 8, Keller 3-10 0-0 8, Hanson 0-1 0-0 0, Buell 4-12 8-8 19, Feestra 1-6 0-0 2. Totals 18-54 15-16 56.
LEWIS-CLARK STATE (18-2, 2-0)
Idoko 2-4 2-4 6, Endsley 3-4 2-2 10, Tikker 3-4 0-0 6, Allen 4-7 5-5 16, Ball 1-3 0-0 3, Frazier 6-13 3-4 17, Young 1-2 0-0 3, Ray 3-8 1-1 8, Pecht 2-4 0-0 4, Hansen 2-2 0-0 5, Brothers 6-11 4-5 16, Pitts 2-2 1-2 5, Trombley 7-9 2-4 16. Totals 42-73 20-27 115.
Halftime score -- LCSC 54, UMW 26. Three-point goals -- UMW 5-18 (Christiaens 0-2, Keller 2-7, Hanson 0-1, Buell 3-7, Feestra 0-1); LCSC 11-22 (Endsley 2-3, Allen 3-5, Ball 1-2, Frazier 2-4, Young 1-1, Ray 1-6, Hansen 1-1). Rebounds -- UMW 31 (three with 5); LCSC 39 (Trombley 8). Assists -- UMW 6 (Keller 3); LCSC 18 (Allen 8). Total fouls -- UMW 20; LCSC 16. Fouled out -- Day, Christiaens. Technical fouls -- none.