Thunderbirds Look To Make It Five Straight Wins Over Northern Arizona

With hopes of rising up the Big Sky Conference rankings, the Thunderbird men’s basketball team will play just one contest this weekend as they travel to Flagstaff to take on the Lumberjacks of Northern Arizona.

Last Time Out

After a tough loss to the Weber State Wildcats, the Thunderbirds bounced back with a big victory over the Idaho State Bengals.

It was all Bengals early in the second half last Saturday, but the Thunderbirds surged to a 17-2 run to claim all the momentum and pull out a much needed victory. The win snapped a three game losing streak for the T-Birds.

It was Brandon Better that led the offensive output for the T-Birds, scoring 16 points with four makes coming behind the three-point line. In just 18 minutes of play, Dwayne Morgan poured in 15 points.

In total, five Thunderbirds finished the game in double figures with Jamal Aytes and Christian Musoko both finishing with 12, and James McGee finishing with 10.

Scoring List Watch

In Southern Utah’s loss to Weber State, McGee moved up to seventh all-time in scoring surpassing the 1,205 point mark set by Davis Baker (2007-2010).

McGee, who currently has 1,222 points, is now looking to top Robert Lee (1974-1977). Lee scored 1,249 points in his career as a Thunderbird. McGee needs just 28 more points to move himself into sixth all-time in school history.

At this point of the season McGee is averaging 9.1 ppg.

Opponent Preview: Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (4-20, 1-10 Big Sky)

On January 25 the Lumberjacks picked up their first Big Sky Conference win of the season over the Montana State Bobcats 77-75, but since have dropped three in a row. NAU will be looking to snap that streak when the Thunderbirds roll up to the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome.

JoJo Anderson has been the go-to guy for NAU this season, averaging 12.4 ppg this season. Torry Johnson is the only other Lumberjack to average in double figures for the season, scoring at an average of 11.3 ppg.

This season NAU is averaging 66.8 ppg, while giving up 79.6 ppg defensively.

NAU’s three wins in the non-conference came against CSU Bakersfield, San Diego Christian and Jacksonville.

Previous Matchup

The Thunderbirds and Lumberjacks matched up on national television earlier this season, as SUU prevailed 81-75.

That win was a team effort for the Thunderbirds, as five different players scored in doubles figures. Better led the T-Birds that day with 19, which Jadon Cohee dropped in 18. Morgan (14), Aytes (12) and Dre Marin (10) were the other three that helped lift the T-Birds over the Lumberjacks.

For NAU it was Karl Harris leading the way in Cedar City, scoring 19 points against the T-Bird defense.

Big Sky At A Glance

The Montana Grizzlies continued to display their dominance last weekend, as they picked up two more victories to move to 11-0 in Big Sky Conference play. The Grizzlies are 18-5 overall, and are riding an 11 game winning streak since the start of league play. Montana is also undefeated at home (9-0).

Weber State sits second in the Big Sky with an 8-2 conference record, and a 15-7 overall mark. The Wildcats have won five games in a row.

The Idaho Vandals sit third in the league, thanks to a three game winning streak that has moved them to 8-3 in the Big Sky.

Words From Coach Simon

On SUU’s victory over Idaho State…

“I liked the way we were able to finish the game,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “We were able to get some stops down the stretch and we had great poise, especially on the offensive end for 40 minutes, where we only had three turnovers.”

On what the goal is this week with only one game on deck…

“We want to get healthier, we want to be fresher than we have been for this stretch, but at the same time we want to continue to get reps and get guys time at different positions now that everybody’s back on the floor,” Simon said.

On what the team learned last time against NAU…

“Our guys were able to see on film that they competed on the defensive end, and that’s where it’s going to have to start for us,” Simon said.

Tip Time

The Thunderbirds and Lumberjacks will tip off at 2 p.m. MT on Saturday inside the Walkup Skydome.

Where To Watch / Listen / Follow Along

Saturday’s game against NAU can be streamed on the PlutoTV App, or on www.watchbigsky.com.

A link to live stats will be provided on www.suutbirds.com prior to tip off.

All games will be available over the airwaves locally on KSUB 590 AM with legendary Thunderbird athletics broadcaster Art Challis on the call.

Follow Us

Follow the Thunderbirds all season @SUUBasketball on Twitter and Instagram and by liking the Southern Utah Basketball page on Facebook.

Read all about the Thunderbirds on www.suutbirds.com.

Ticket Information

Tickets for the contest in Flagstaff can be purchased at www.nauathletics.com/tickets.

Single game tickets for the 2017-18 SUU men’s basketball campaign can be purchased at www.tbirdtickets.com or at the America First Event Center Ticket Office.

Road To Reno

Tickets for the Big Sky Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships can be purchased at www.RoadtoReno.com.

Story By
SUU Athletics Strategic Communications 
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