GAME NOTES: When it comes to having a downer of a season, Southern Utah knows a thing or two about what that feels like. The Thunderbirds have lost 15 consecutive games this season, and haven't beaten a Division I opponent yet this year. They'll try to change all that as they travel to face the Portland State Vikings in Big Sky Conference action at Stott Center.
Southern Utah is sitting on an 0-7 record in the Big Sky entering this contest with the Vikings, and is wondering when the 15-game losing skid will come to an end. The streak was extended Thursday with a 90-83 loss to Eastern Washington in conference action on the road.
Portland State is trying to stay afloat this season with a 7-8 overall record and a 2-4 mark in the Big Sky. The Vikings have won two of their last three, but are coming off a loss to Northern Arizona, 77-56, last Saturday.
Portland State holds the slim all-time series lead between the two programs, 2-1. In Portland at the friendly confines of Stott Center, the Vikings are 2-0 against the Thunderbirds. The teams split the season series a year ago.
Southern Utah played well against Eastern Washington, registering a season- best 54.2 percent shooting mark from the floor and notching a second-best 83 points in a single game. But the Thunderbirds allowed Tyler Harvey to score 36 points for EWU, including a perfect 20-of-20 from the free-throw line. Trey Kennedy scored 22 points to lead the Thunderbirds, adding six assists to pace the team. A.J. Hess scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Casey Oliverson chipped in 10. Southern Utah shot 47.1 percent from 3-point range in the contest.
Kennedy is the only Southern Utah player averaging point totals in the double digits this season at 11.3 ppg on just 39.6 percent shooting. Kennedy tops the team in assists with 38, and is second with 11 season steals. A.J. Hess nets an even 9 ppg, while Oliverson is third at 5.1 ppg. Oliverson leads the team in rebounding at 4.8 rpg. The Thunderbirds are scoring just 55.8 ppg and allowing 76.3 ppg to their opponents.
Portland State went into the locker room knotted with Northern Arizona, 31-31, but the second half wasn't as kind to the Vikings. The Lumberjacks cruised to a 46-25 second-half output over Portland State leading to the win. Gary Winston led all Vikings scorers with 13 points as the only player in double figures on the team. Kyle Richardson netted seven points and grabbed a team- high five rebounds in the defeat. Portland State shot just 39.6 percent from the floor in the contest.
Tim Douglas, who has seven points in the loss to Northern Arizona, leads the Vikings this season in scoring with 14.5 ppg on 38.2 percent shooting from the field. His 55 assists is a team best, and 17 steals tops the squad as well. DaShaun Wiggins is second with 12.1 ppg, while Aaron Moore is third at 11.8 ppg and a team-high 5.8 rpg. The Vikings are scoring 71.9 ppg through 15 contests, and allow 72.2 ppg to the opposition.
If Southern Utah can play like it did against Eastern Washington and get solid point contributions from a number of outlets, the team should be able to beat the Vikings. But on the road the Thunderbirds have really struggled, and perhaps the Eastern Washington game was severely abnormal in terms of production.
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