After jumping out to their best start since 2000, Southern Utah’s Men’s Basketball team has cooled down substantially.
As the Big Sky conference play hangs around the corner, the ship needs to be righted and it needs to be righted this weekend against Pepperdine.
The squad started the season well by beating up on a couple of small colleges at home and scored a couple of gritty road wins against San Jose State and Seattle.
Since the win in Seattle, SUU has lost three road close road games to varying levels of competition. There was a five-point loss to a solid UNLV team, a game against Long Beach with numerous egregious calls by the referees, and a close game against a very good Central Michigan team.
Unless the program becomes a perennial power, SUU will always have a preseason full of tough road games and cupcakes at home. It’s a given that the team will win some and lose some close games on the road.
That’s no excuse for the team, but given that it is the reality of the situation, the T-Birds need to bring all of what they’ve learned in these road games together and establish a jumping off point for the rest of the season.
The feeling around this team since the start of the season is that it could be one of the best in the Big Sky. The newcomers are good and returning players have been consistent, but the team hasn’t been able to close out games and get victories.
The Big Sky is going to be very tough this year. Weber State beat up on BYU and won against Central Michigan. Northern Colorado is 6-1 with a wins over Pepperdine and Wyoming. Defending Big Sky Champs Montana return most of their key contributors and are overwhelming favorites to top the Big Sky.
SUU needs to make a statement if they’re serious about contending in the Big Sky. Saturday’s game against Pepperdine is the perfect opportunity to make such a statement.
Momentum is everything in the game of basketball, and the team needs to build some momentum before conference play begins on Dec. 29. With the road matchup against USC and SI’s number six overall prospect Kevin Porter Jr. looming in the distance, the T-Birds need to build momentum now.
Pepperdine is a fine team that usually finishes in the middle of the West Coast Conference, the type of team a Big Sky contender should feast on.
SUU needs to assert their dominance in this game on both sides of the ball. The T-Birds are currently 30 in the country in scoring offense, but sit at just 210 in scoring defense.
Having a great offense and no defense won’t get you anywhere. Just ask the football team. SUU needs to lock down on the Waves in preparation for the offensive talent onslaught that USC presents.
If the T-Birds can dominate the game against Pepperdine and keep things competitive against the Trojans, it’s a perfect set up going into the start of the Big Sky season.
Now is the time to show the T-Birds are for real. It’s not the last week of the season or the first week of the conference tournament. The boulder needs to start rolling now if it is going to have enough minutia to roll through the Big Sky.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo by: SUU Athletics Strategic Communication