GAME NOTES: Continuing a desperate search for their very first win of the season against another program from the Division I ranks, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds set their sights on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks in a Big Sky Conference battle at the Centrum.
Southern Utah does have one win on the season, an 85-78 final versus Arizona Christian on the very first night of competition back in early November, but since then it has been all down hill. The Thunderbirds are now looking at a hefty 11-game slide, extended over the weekend when the team fell to Sacramento State at home, 77-49. All but one of the defeats this season have come by double digits.
As for the Lumberjacks, they too have found victories hard to come by in 2013-14, but not quite as much as SUU. In fact, after claiming wins in just two of the first nine outings of the campaign, NAU has posted three in the last five, including a 75-65 decision over Sacramento State last week at home.
Northern Arizona is now 3-1 at home, but just 2-6 in true road games and 2-8 outside of Flagstaff altogether.
The all-time series is under the control of the Lumberjacks who own a 13-10 advantage over SUU.
Aaseem Dixon scored a game-high 22 points, shooting 5-of-9 behind the 3-point line and grabbing seven rebounds, as the 'Jacks grabbed the double-digit home win against the Hornets last week. Quinton Upshur accounted for 18 points, converting all five of his 3-point tries, while Max Jacobsen pitched in with 17 points for a squad that shot a sizzling 11-of-16 beyond the arc, but only 16-of-28 at the free-throw line.
Between Upshur (14.4 ppg) and Dixon (13.5 ppg) they have converted a combined 63 3-point baskets thus far, which means the remaining members of the NAU squad have delivered just 23 triples through 14 games, Jacobsen (13.9 ppg), the other double-digit scorer for the Lumberjacks, tends to involve himself in the paint where he is pulling down 4.6 rpg, and not so much out on the perimeter where he has converted only three of his 11 shot attempts.
Southern Utah again showed how poorly the program is by falling behind 17-2 versus Sacramento State and trailing by 21 at the break. Trey Kennedy and A.J. Hess were the only players to reach double figures for the Thunderbirds as they tallied 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Casey Oliverson came up a point shy of a double-double as he claimed 10 rebounds in the futile performance.
After shooting a mere 32.0 percent from the field, including 1-of-12 behind the 3-point line against the Hornets, Southern Utah is connecting on a meager 36.3 percent from the floor on the campaign, a big reason why the group is scoring just 55.8 ppg. Kennedy stands as the lone double-digit scorer with 10.9 ppg and he is just as inept at finding the bottom of the basket as everyone else on the squad.
As much as people may want to root for the Thunderbirds to finally break into the win column, nearly everything has to fall in line in order for that to happen. NAU may not be the most dominant team in the Big Sky, but it certainly has the ability to have this game under control by halftime.
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