The Southern Utah University men’s basketball team beat the visiting Utah Valley University Wolverines 79-67 in a huge Western Athletic Conference win. With the victory, the Thunderbirds improve to 15-7 on the season and 7-2 in WAC play.
Early on in the first half, it was a back-and-forth battle between the two sides. Finally, around the six minute mark, sophomore Jason Spurgin cut the Wolverine’s lead to 25-23 after two made free throws. On the next Thunderbird possession, senior Harrison Butler sank a three-pointer to give the Thunderbirds the lead. Butler finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds.
The Wolverines answered back, going on a 11-1 run in the later stages of the first half to up their lead 37-27. Southern Utah responded back with a run of their own and cut the lead to five after a buzzer-beater three-pointer from senior Tevian Jones. Jones scored 20 points and brought down six rebounds.
After the big three from Jones, the fans became a factor. With 4,013 fans behind them, the Thunderbirds were poised for a second-half comeback. Both teams exchanged blows and, through the early stages, the game was tied on four different occasions. At the eleventh minute mark, sophomore center Aziz Bandaogo hit a contested layup to make it even at 54-54 apiece.
Spurgin responded with a slam dunk to regain the lead. The Thunderbirds fed off an electrified America First Event Center and went on a 14-3 run. The run was sparked by a plethora of different players, including sophomore Drake Allen, Spurgin, Jones and senior Maizen Fausett. Fausett earned 15 points and corralled 11 rebounds to earn a double-double. During the run, tempers started to flare with a technical foul on senior Blaze Nield. The Thunderbirds kept their cool and went on to win.
Southern Utah played crucial defense, holding Utah Valley to 30.8% shooting from the three-point line and 47% from the field. They outrebounded the Wolverines 45-34.
Southern Utah starts a two-game road trip with the first matchup against the Lancers of California Baptist University on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Tip-off is at 8 p.m. MST, and this will be the first meeting between the two teams this season.
The game will be held at the CBU Events Center and will be streamed on ESPN+.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics