The Southern Utah University men’s basketball team went to Texas and faced the University of Texas at Arlington and Sam Houston State University. The 1-1 road trip gave the Thunderbirds a 19-10 record overall and a 11-5 record in Western Athletic Conference play.
Versus UTA Mavericks
The Thunderbirds started the game on a 13-4 run after two made free throws from senior Tevian Jones. Jones finished with 21 points and a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. After a made layup from graduate guard Cameron Healy, SUU led 21-11 with 7:30 left in the first half. In the closing stages of the first half, senior Dee Barnes made a crucial three-pointer that extended SUU’s lead to 13. Barnes scored 20 points, a new career high, and finished 4-4 from the three-point line. The Thunderbirds walked into halftime with a 42-30 lead. SUU finished the first half shooting 53.33% from the field and a perfect 6-6 from the free throw line.
Starting the second half with a four-point play, sophomore Drake Allen headlined a 9-3 run, bringing SUU’s lead to 51-33. Allen finished with 17 points and led the Thunderbirds with eight assists.
Southern Utah held the Mavericks at bay, allowing their lead to get under ten points twice. SUU responded both times by pushing the lead back to double digits. The Thunderbirds cruised to an easy 86-76 win over the Mavericks.
SUU finished the game shooting 52.8% from the field, 50% from the three-point stripe and 95.5% from the free throw line at 21-22. The Thunderbirds brought havoc to UTA on the defensive side, scoring 27 points from turnovers without allowing a single lead change.
Versus SHSU Bearkats
Southern Utah pulled out ahead with 7-3 in the early stages of the game. Sam Houston responded with a crucial three-pointer from senior Donte Powers. This started a back-and-forth battle throughout the middle stage of the first half. Toward the four-minute mark, the Bearkats started to pull ahead. After a layup from sophomore Lamar Wilkerson, Sam Houston led 21-14.
The Thunderbirds struck back, tying the game on a 9-2 run with three-pointers from Barnes, Healy and Allen. Allen finished the game with 14 points. Southern Utah took a 28-26 lead after a three-point play from Barnes. Powers made two free throws to tie the game going into halftime.
The Bearkats came into the second half with a flawlessly executed plan to shut down the Thunderbird offense. Southern Utah’s last lead of the game came at the 16:09 mark; after that, the Bearkats took control. While the teams swapped buckets, Sam Houston continued to control possession and keep the lead to single digits.
Near the end of the game, Sam Houston pushed their lead to 54-42. Southern Utah rallied back. With less than a minute left in regulation, SUU trailed by four points after two made free throws by Jones. Jones led the Thunderbirds with 15 points. Sadly, the effort was not enough, and Sam Houston pulled away with a 64-57 win.
Sam Houston held Southern Utah to 25% shooting from the field and 17% from the three-point line in the final half. Overall, the Thunderbirds shot 30% from the field.
The Thunderbirds’ next game is scheduled for Wednesday, March 1, as they take on Grand Canyon University. The game will be held at the America First Event Center at 7 p.m. MST.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photos courtesy of SUU Athletics