After a tough off-season that saw just three athletes returning to the roster, a fresh Southern Utah University men’s basketball team will get their first taste of action on Monday, Oct. 23. They will host Westminster University for an exhibition game with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Griffins are in Division II of NCAA in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Last year, they went 13-16 overall and landed No. 6 in the RMAC.
Westminster averaged 74.2 points per game as a team last season. Their highest individual scorer still present on the team is Donaval Avila, who averaged 11.3 points while shooting 51% from the field.
Rebounding was a strength for the Griffins, with current players Avila and Drake Middleton being heavy contributors. They averaged 5.2 and 4 rebounds per game, respectively, while the team averaged 35.5 overall. The Griffins were in the top 50 of Division II teams in total rebounds and rebounds per game.
The Salt Lake City team’s last win against a Division I school was in 2019 when they defeated Texas A&M University-Commerce 88-77. They have never taken on Southern Utah.
The Thunderbirds are entering their second season in the Western Athletic Conference with almost an entirely new roster. They made it to the final round of the WAC Tournament last year after being ranked third in the conference.
They were the No. 4 scoring offense in the nation last season after averaging 82.8 points per game, but all of their top scorers either transferred or graduated.
Braden Housley, Zion Young and Parsa Fallah, the only returning Thunderbirds, played a combined 303 minutes last year with Housley not seeing the court at all. An exhibition game against a team in a lower division will be a good chance for the home crowd to get familiar with the fresh faces.
Author: Anden Garfield
Photographer: Anden Garfield