Continuing their run in the first iteration of The Basketball Classic tournament, Southern Utah University men’s basketball will return to play in Cedar City. The Thunderbirds are fresh off an 82-69 win over the University of Texas at El Paso and now get a chance to host their quarterfinals matchup against the University of Portland on Saturday, March 26 at 4 p.m.
Last time out
Nick Fleming shined in the win over UTEP as his career-high 18 points helped propel the team to victory. The senior guard came off the bench midway through the first half and ignited a run that the Miners could never recover from. Fleming scored or assisted on seven straight baskets on his way to 15 points in the first half.
WATCH OUT FOR @__Flemlife
He has surpassed his T-Bird career high in the first 11 minutes of this game 🔥
More to come… pic.twitter.com/EGfUhhcm5k
— SUU Men’s Basketball (@SUUBasketball) March 23, 2022
While Fleming led the way, SUU enjoyed a strong performance from all five starters as well. Guard Dre Marin built upon his first-round explosion by going 5-7 from three-point range and scored 17 points on 66% shooting.
Center Jason Spurgin added 13 points and seven rebounds while guard John Knight III had 12 points and nine rebounds. Forwards Harrison Butler and Maizen Fausett rounded out the effort scoring 11 points and nine points, respectively, and they pulled down seven rebounds each.
While they ultimately escaped with the win, the Thunderbirds will need to cut down on their turnovers if they hope to win The Basketball Classic. Southern Utah turned the ball over 14 times while they only forced the Miners to commit five. Knight especially struggled, registering five turnovers himself.
A look at Portland
The University of Portland finished the season with a 19-14 overall record and 7-7 within the West Coast Conference. The Pilots entered their conference tournament as the No. 6 seed and secured a first-round bye. They beat the University of San Diego in the second round and lost to Santa Clara University in the quarterfinals.
Portland accepted their invitation to The Basketball Classic and faced the University of New Orleans in the first round whom they beat 94-73.
The Pilots feature an impressive three-headed scoring attack led by forwards Tyler Robertson and Moses Wood as well as guard Chris Austin. All three players average over 14 points per game.
They were able to beat New Orleans with an impressive effort from Austin and Wood, who both put up 19, as well as forward Christian Sjolund. Sjolund started just his thirteenth game of the season and scored 21 points.
Southern Utah gets another post-season game in Cedar City, this time on Saturday, March 26. Tipoff is at 4 p.m. in the America First Event Center and the game can also be streamed on ESPN+. Because it is a postseason game, tickets must be purchased. SUU Athletics is also giving away 500 tickets to students and they can be picked up at the AFEC ticket office.
Story by: Christian Esparza
Photo Courtesy of SUU Athletics