This week the Southern Utah University Thunderbirds will continue Western Athletic Conference play against the New Mexico State University Aggies at home. Their following contest will be in Washington versus the Seattle University Redhawks.
Thunderbirds last week
Southern Utah faced the top WAC defense of Sam Houston State. The Thunderbirds outscored the Bearkats 86-74; SUU piled it on their defense that only allows 58.5 points per game. Sam Houston entered the matchup at No. 39 in net rankings for all of college basketball, the highest Southern Utah has hosted in the America First Event Center.
In a 67-58 victory, Southern Utah topped the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. This win improved the Thunderbirds’ record to 13-6 overall and 5-1 in the WAC. The Lumberjacks entered the contest on a 15-game conference win streak, nine of which came on the road.
This week was full of Maizen Fausett highlights. The fifth-year forward averaged 20.5 points per game while shooting 77.7% from beyond the arc and 76.2% from the field. He also hauled in 7.5 rebounds per game.
Senior guard Tevian Jones scored 17 points per game on 42.9% three-point shooting last week for head coach Todd Simon. He was greedy on the defensive end with two steals per game.
Jason Spurgin showed his paint presence against Sam Houston. The sophomore center had three blocked shots and two steals. In their following matchup against SFA, he went 6-6 from the field and finished with 15 points.
Southern Utah’s No. 2 nationally ranked offense has been facilitated by sophomore guard Drake Allen. He scored 12 points against the Lumberjacks and shot 2-2 from three-point land. Most importantly, he got his teammates going with an average of 6.5 assists per game for both contests.
“He’s a calming presence who gets to his spots on the floor at all times,” Simone said about Allen. “You trust him to death, and he just gives you so many options up there. ”
The Thunderbirds are averaging 86.1 points per game, making 48.2% of their field goal attempts and shooting 33.8% from beyond the arc. Defensively, Southern Utah averages 8.5 steals per game and 3.5 blocks per game. The team has held their opponents to 72.7 points per game.
New Mexico State Aggies
The Aggies are coming to Cedar City fresh off of two losses. New Mexico State fell 66-55 at home to the University of Texas at Arlington. Their second loss came on the road against the Redhawks. Last week’s performance dropped the Aggies’ record to 7-11 overall, 0-6 in conference play and 1-5 on the road.
Led by head coach Greg Heiar, New Mexico State is averaging 73.5 points per game and outscores their opponents by 5.6 points. The Aggies are shooting 44.1% from the field and 34.5% from three-point land.
Leading the way for New Mexico State is senior guard Xavier Pinson. He is putting up a team-high 12.7 points per game on 34% shooting from beyond the arc. Pinson is dishing out 4.6 assists per game and his 1.2 steals per game places him third on the team.
Junior guard Deshawndre Washington is scoring 12.1 points per game, and leads the team in rebounds per game with 7.2. He also leads the team in steals per game with 1.4.
New Mexico State averages 7.4 steals per game, averages 2.3 blocked shots per game and forces 14.1 turnovers per game. This has helped them hold their opponents to just 67.9 points per game.
Earlier this year, Southern Utah finally added a win against New Mexico State to their resume. The Aggies lead with a 3-1 record historically, but the Thunderbirds look to make the season record 2-0.
The Redhawk’s 5-0 WAC record makes them the final undefeated team remaining in the conference. Seattle is averaging 76 points per game, shooting 42.3% from the field and making 32.9% of their three-point attempts.
Junior guard Cameron Tyson is scoring 20.4 points per game, which ranks him second in the WAC. Tyson shoots 37% from three-point land and hauls in 4.3 rebounds per game.
Riley Grigsby is fresh off a WAC Player of the Week award. The senior guard scored 23 points per game, hauled in 8.5 rebounds per game and shot 56.7% from the field.
Defensively, the Redhawks have held their opponents to 68.7 points per game and average 3.2 blocks per game. Seattle has averaged 5.9 steals per game, which helps them force 13.5 turnovers per game.
Historically, the teams break even at two wins apiece. Southern Utah won the last matchup on the road 73-70 in Seattle.
The Redhawks will host Tarleton State University on Jan. 19 before battling SUU.
The Thunderbirds will host the Aggies on Jan. 19 at 7 p.m. MST, followed by their game in Seattle against the Redhawks on Jan. 21 at 4 p.m. MST. Both games can be streamed on ESPN+.
Article by: Chevy Blackburn
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