The Southern Utah University Thunderbirds are heading to Las Cruces, New Mexico, to battle the New Mexico State University Aggies on Wednesday, Dec. 28. The Aggies are No. 11 in the Western Athletic Conference standings with a 7-5 record.
SUU enters the matchup as No. 7 in the WAC with a 8-5 record after a loss to the University of Colorado last Wednesday. The Thunderbirds still have one of the best offenses in the country and are averaging 90 points per game, which positions them third in the country for scoring.
Thunderbirds so far
The Thunderbirds’ 17.77 fast break points per game have helped propel them to a top three scoring offense and so have some seniors. Guard Tevian Jones averages nearly 20 points per game and is eclipsing 33.7% from beyond the arc.
Senior Harrison Butler has been a huge piece in the starting five; at the guard position, he is averaging 13.7 points per game on 45% shooting from the field and 37% from beyond the arc. He is also hauling in a team-high 6.9 rebounds per game.
In his fifth year at SUU, senior forward Maizen Fausett has brought down 6.3 rebounds per game and has added 9.5 points per game. Sophomore center Jason Spurgin is third in scoring for the Thunderbirds with 9.8 points per game. The Aussie is doing that at 60% shooting from the field and is bringing down 5.4 rebounds per game.
Sophomore point guard Drake Allen and Butler are tied at a team-high 2.5 assists per game. Allen is the newest member of the Thunderbirds’ starting five and has handled the jump from junior college well. He is shooting the highest three-point percentage of the starters at 38.5 while shooting 57% from the field.
On the bench for the Thunderbirds, graduate guard Cameron Healy is averaging 6.5 points per game on 35% three-point shooting. He is the Thunderbirds’ leading bench scorer, but freshman center Parsa Fallah trails him with 5.7 points per game.
The team has been greedy on defense, averaging 10.3 steals per game and forcing 17.1 turnovers per game. SUU’s starting five all average one or more steals per game.
Jones leads the way with 1.7 steals per game, followed closely by Allen’s 1.6, and Fausett is close behind with 1.5. Butler contributes 1.2 steals per game, and junior guard Zion Young and Spurgin are both at one steal per game.
In the paint, Spurgin is the only Thunderbird who is averaging more than one block per game. He is leading SUU’s paint defense with 1.5 blocks per game. Butler is next in line at 0.7 blocks per game after having four blocks against Northern Arizona University on Dec. 17.
A look at the Aggies
The Aggies are fresh off an 85-76 victory against North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. New Mexico State University has five players who are averaging double-digit scoring for head coach Greg Heiar.
Two offensive threats that the Thunderbirds will have to contain are junior guard Deshawndre Washington and senior guard Xavier Pinson. Both are the top playmakers for the Aggies’ offense, averaging over four assists per game.
Washington has been the most efficient scorer for them so far, averaging 12.8 points per game on a ridiculous 46% from beyond the arc. Pinson is right behind him with 12.6 points per game, but he is only shooting 39% from the field and 33% from three-point land.
With nearly eight rebounds per game, Washington has the team-high on the glass as well. Trailing him is junior guard DaQuan Quaye Gordon, who is averaging 5.9 rebounds per game.
With Washington averaging 1.7 steals and Gordon averaging 1.6, the two are neck and neck in steals per game. The only Aggies averaging more than one block per game is junior forward Mike Peake. In his two games played, he has averaged two blocks per game.
The Aggies have averaged 78.7 points per game throughout the 12 games they have played. They will have to rely heavily on their defense to keep up with SUU’s top-ranked offense.
The Aggies have won all three games against the Thunderbirds in the matchup’s history. Both teams have similar records and will produce a great matchup in the Pan American Center at 7 p.m.
Article by: Chevy Blackburn
Photos by: SUU Athletics