Southern Utah Men’s Basketball team faces off against their in-state rival Weber State Wildcats tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the America First Events Center. The contest will be a statement game for the Thunderbirds.
One month ago the T-Birds beat the Wildcats in a thrilling overtime game in Ogden. SUU has the opportunity for their first sweep against Weber since the 2014-15 season.
The matchup will not be easy. Weber State is currently tied for second in the Big Sky conference. Talented junior guard Jerrick Harding is second in the conference in scoring with 22.0 PPG.
Harding tore the Thunderbirds up for 27 points in their last matchup. Guard Cody Johns, forward Brekkott Chapman and center Zach Braxton are all averaging more than ten points per contest.
Southern Utah needed peak performances from Dre Marin, Cameron Oluyitan and Andre Adams to sneak the overtime win a month ago. They will need to match that performance tonight to complete the season sweep.
Marin is a defensive pest and has been successful in limiting Harding in past years. Limiting Harding will be essential in tonight’s matchup.
The other key matchup will be Adams vs. Braxton. Braxton is a behemoth who sucks in offensive rebounds like vacuum. Adams will need to keep him off the offensive glass and avoid foul trouble.
Brandon Better, Oluyitan and Adams have been playing very well on the offensive end over the last month. Each has a very good sense of when to take the game into their hands.
The rivalry game isn’t the only important conference game this weekend. The Idaho State Bengals will make the trip from Pocatello to take on the T-Birds on Saturday.
The Bengals dismantled the T-Birds by 20 points in their game last month. Since then ISU is 2-6 and have only scored more than 70 points in a game once (a 104-84 loss to Montana State).
SUU is a different team now. In their previous match up the T-Birds had just received the news that starters Dwayne Morgan and Jason Richardson would be out for the season. Since then the team has jelled, and fringe contributors like Harrison Butler and Maizen Fausett have stepped up.
As the Thunderbirds search for their first +.500 season since 2007, games against middling to low quality Big Sky teams are must wins. Idaho State is a lesser team than SUU and the T-Birds need to win this one at home.
Watch the Thunderbirds in action tonight at 6:30 p.m. against Weber and Saturday at 2:00 p.m. against Idaho State. The games will also be broadcast on Pluto.tv channel 236 and KSUB 590 AM radio.
Story by: Connor Sanders
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics Strategic Communication