The Southern Utah University men’s basketball team officially opens up their regular season against California State University on Monday, Nov. 6, at 8 p.m. The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Last year, California State University went 11-22 in the regular season with a record of 6-14 in the Big West Conference to finish eighth. This matchup against Southern Utah will be the first game of the season for the Roadrunners. In the preseason coaches poll, CSU was ranked eighth.
Point guard Kaleb Higgins is hoping to pick up where he left off after averaging a career-high 13.1 points per game before having a season-ending knee injury in January. The senior from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, shot 38.4% from the field, including 31.9% from behind the arc and a team-high 90.7% from the free throw line.
Junior guard Marvin McGhee lll was the only player on the team to start all 33 games. After Higgins went down, McGhee saw an increase in minutes and production. In his final 12 games, McGhee averaged 10.8 points per game, including a season-high 26 points and six rebounds at the University of California San Diego.
Rod Barnes is entering his 13th season as head coach for the Roadrunners. Barnes has led his team to four postseason runs, including appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 2016 and the National Invitational Tournament in 2017.
In SUU’s first year in the Western Athletic Conference, they had an impressive 24-13 overall record with a 12-6 record in conference play, putting them fourth overall in the WAC. This year will look a lot different due to various offseason changes, most notably the departure of head coach Todd Simon.
New head coach Rob Jeter will look to continue the success that Simon left after coaching at SUU for the last seven years. Jeter coached at Western Illinois University for the last three years, including a winning record this past year.
One of the few returning players for the Thunderbirds is sophomore Parsa Fallah. The power forward appeared in 33 games last year, averaging 3.6 points and 2.1 rebounds per game while leading the team in field goal percentage at 67.9%. Fallah had his best game of the season against West Coast Baptist College, in which he scored 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds all while shooting 90.9% from the floor.
Southern Utah has also added some depth from the transfer portal by bringing in juniors Jamari Sibley and Jamir Simpson. Sibley, originally from Milwaukee and a transfer from the University of Texas at El Paso, averaged 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds per game. Simpson transferred from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he shot 46% from the field and 33.3% from behind the arc.
— With 82.8 points per game, Southern Utah ranked first in the WAC and fourth in the NCAA in scoring.
— California State University ranked second in the BWC in defense, only allowing 64.7 points per game.
— SUU averaged 61.8 field goal attempts per game, ranking them first in the WAC.
— CSU averaged 6.2 steals and three blocks per game as a team.
Author: Jack Paul
Photographer: Anden Garfield
Editor: Anden Garfield