North Dakota (15-14) at Southern Utah (1-26)
GAME NOTES: Southern Utah is running out of opportunities to score that first Big Sky Conference win of the season, as the Thunderbirds host North Dakota at Centrum Arena on Thursday night.
The only program at the Division I level still with just a single victory in 2013-14, albeit against NAIA's Arizona Christian in the opener, Southern Utah also enters play tonight as one of only two schools yet to break through in their respective conference, the other being TCU which fell to Big 12 foe Texas on Wednesday night.
Since taking the season opener, SUU has dropped an incredible 26 games in a row and is 0-18 in conference play after losing to Montana on the road last Saturday, 82-54. The squad also has Northern Colorado remaining on the regular-season schedule this weekend, but there's a good chance the team could go winless against D-I competition this season.
While Southern Utah wallows in the cellar of the Big Sky, North Dakota is still pushing for star status in the Big Sky, just behind Weber State in the standings. Unfortunately for UND, this is the regular-season finale so catching up to the Wildcats does not appear possible. On a more positive note, North Dakota is enjoying a four-game win streak at the moment, thanks to a 94-90 defeat of Northern Colorado two nights ago.
In terms of the all-time series, North Dakota is ahead by a count of 3-1, thanks to a 65-61 decision in the first meeting of the campaign back in early January at home.
North Dakota fell behind by seven in the first few minutes of the opening half against Northern Colorado on Tuesday night, but that was before the hosts lit up the scoreboard with an incredible 79.2 percent shooting from the floor through the first 20 minutes and 58.0 percent for the game. Troy Huff erupted for 34 points, connecting on 15-of-17 at the free-throw line, followed by Aaron Anderson and Jaron Nash with 20 and 14 points, respectively.
Huff, who is averaging 19.9 ppg at the moment, now needs just five more points to move into third place on the North Dakota all-time scoring list. Taking into consideration the fact that Huff has scored at least 20 points a total of 13 times this season and dropped a career-best 37 on a defensive-minded Wisconsin program early in the campaign, a weak SUU defense should pose little resistance for him and the rest of the UND roster.
Against Montana, the Thunderbirds fell behind right out of the chute and never recovered, converting a total of just six field goals in the first half and 33.3 percent for the game. A.J. Hess was responsible for 13 points and eight rebounds and Trey Kennedy came off the bench to post 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the floor, which means he and Hess combined for eight of the unit's 18 field goals. As a result of the setback, SUU is still waiting for its first win over a Division I foe since Feb. 23, 2013 and the first against a league opponent since Feb. 7, 2013.
Even though the Thunderbirds have pushed a couple of opponents to the limit this season, the truth of the matter is that there is very little talent suiting up in Cedar City right now. The team is being outscored by a whopping 16.3 ppg and doesn't have a single double-digit scorer to turn to. Kennedy, who has started all but six games, accounts for 9.5 ppg, followed by Hess and his 9.4 ppg, but both are shooting less than 40 percent from the field.
In conference games the Thunderbirds are being outscored by 13.5 ppg, so there is little reason to believe, even being at home, that there is a chance for a Southern Utah win tonight.
GAME NOTES: Southern Utah is running out of opportunities to score that first
Big Sky Conference win of the season, as the Thunderbirds host North Dakota at
Centrum Arena on Thursday night.Fact Stats
FACTS & STATS: Site: Centrum Arena (5,300) -- Cedar City, Utah.
Television: None. Home Record: UND 11-3, SUU 1-10. Away Record: UND 4-9, SUU
0-16. Neutral Record: UND 0-2, SUU 0-0. Conference Record: UND 12-7, SUU 0-18.
Series Record: North Dakota leads, 3-1.Game Date and Time
Thursday, March 6, 9:35 p.m. (ET)Predicted Outcome
North Dakota 77, Southern Utah 62