CHENEY, Wash. - North Dakota wraps up a four-game road swing on Saturday with a lot on the line at Big Sky foe Eastern Washington. Tipoff against the Eagles is set for 4:05 p.m. CT.
UND VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON SERIES
All-time: UND leads 2-1
Division I: UND leads 1-0
In Cheney: EWU leads 1-0
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Eastern Washington: 1-0
Eastern Washington Head Coach Jim Hayford vs. UND: 0-1
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.BigSkyTV.org (free)
Live Stats: www.GoEags.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
- UND controls its own destiny as far as earning a berth into the league's postseason tournament after defeating Portland State 74-66 in a road game on Thursday. A win over the Eagles on Saturday would clinch a spot in the seven-team field.
- The victory over the Vikings was the 10th win in Big Sky play and strengthened UND's hold on third place, providing the Green and White with a game-and-a-half lead on a trio of teams tied for fourth at 8-9 (Southern Utah, Northern Arizona and Montana State).
- UND also moved two games over .500 in Big Sky play for the first time this season - the Green and White got off to a 1-4 start.
- It was also the fifth Big Sky road win of the season for a team that won only two games away from home during the 2011-12 campaign. The five road wins are also the most in a season during UND's Division I era (since 2008-09) and for head coach Brian Jones (since 2006-07).
- UND is now 5-4 in Big Sky play both at home and on the road and only Montana (7-1) and Weber State (7-2) have more road triumphs.
- Junior Troy Huff led all scorers with 18 points in the win over PSU. Huff hit a pair of 3-pointers midway through the second half that stretched a one-point lead to seven. The visitors never trailed in the game and PSU only managed to tie the score once at 35-35.
- Classmate Aaron Anderson joined Huff in UND's 1,000-point club by adding 16 points in the victory. Fittingly, Anderson made two free throws late in the second half to reach the milestone. Anderson leads all Big Sky players with 126 makes from the charity stripe.
- Anderson and Huff became the first junior teammates in UND history to reach the 1,000-point club in the same season. Previously, only two sets of teammates had joined the elite club in the same season (Chris Fahrbach and Mike Gruelich; 1978-79 and Marcus Travis and Hunter Reinke; 1999-2000).
- Anderson is just the 10th junior overall to reach the plateau at UND. He is averaging 20.0 ppg in his last four games and has 1,004 for his career.
- Junior Jamal Webb (11) and redshirt freshman Shane Benton (10) gave UND four players in double-figures. Webb added team-highs of seven rebounds and seven assists.
- Webb also had two steals to move closer to catching Scott Guldseth (178) for the UND's all-time lead in the category. Webb has 172 entering the EWU contest.
- Webb maintained his lead in overall Big Sky games with his two swipes (2.4/g), but Huff passed him in league play after collecting four steals of his own against the Vikings. Huff (2.5/g) has 47 on the season in 21 games.
- Benton has provided a spark of late since seeing his playing time increase due to Josh Schuler's injury (missed last seven games). Benton is averaging 8.4 ppg in those seven games and since moving into the starting lineup for the last four games, Benton is averaging 8.35 ppg.
- Junior Brandon Brekke returned to the floor at PSU after missing three games with an ankle injury. He scored two points (free throws) in 14 minutes of play.
- The win over the Vikings was the 99th in the head coaching career of Brian Jones. He is looking to become the fourth UND coach to reach the 100-win plateau.
- Senior Jordan Allard is now ninth all-time on the UND charts for career games played at 119.
- This is the first trip for UND to play in Cheney since the team's only previous outing there during the 1981-82 season (81-72 loss).
- Huff reached the 1,000-point plateau against EWU when the Eagles were in Grand Forks in mid-January. He led all scorers with 18 points and finished with a double-double after grabbing 11 rebounds.
- Huff is averaging 20.1 ppg in the 12 games since reaching that milestone. He has only been held below double figures once this season in 20 games.
- UND's 65-47 win was the largest for the Green and White in league play and the 47 points were a season-low by a Big Sky opponent.
MORE IN THE PAINT
- Montana and Weber State have already locked in the top two seeds and the Grizzlies hold a one-game lead on the Wildcats in the race to host the 2013 Big Sky Tournament, which is set for March 14-16.
- The next five seeds are up for grabs and the remaining eight of the remaining nine league teams are all still mathematically alive for a postseason berth (Idaho State has been eliminated).
- Senior Mitch Wilmer has six double-digit scoring games to his credit this season after recording just one his first three seasons of playing time. Two of those have come against Northern Arizona - a team UND had a chance defeat last Saturday, but the Lumberjacks found a way to force OT and escape with a 74-72 victory.
- Wilmer had 12 points and eight rebounds in the home loss to the Lumberjacks, while Anderson finished with 24 points and Huff registered his second double-double of the weekend at home.
- Huff's double-double was his fifth of the season and 10th of his career and it also marked the first time he posted one in consecutive games. He finished with 19 points and equaled his season-high with 11 rebounds. Huff had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the 49-48 victory over Sac State.
- Huff also moved into third place on UND's career list for steals after equaling his career-high with five takeaways. He now has 137 in two-plus season.
- Schuler has missed seven straight games now with back spasms. Schuler, who had started 20 straight games since coming off the bench in the season opener at K-State. His status is day-to-day. Schuler had played in all 87 games of his UND career up to the Montana State game on Feb. 7 .
- With the win over Idaho State on Feb. 2, Jones surpassed former NBA coaching legend Bill Fitch for fourth place on the all-time career wins list at UND. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67 and Jones now has 99 career wins.
- UND fell to 8-5 at home with its overtime loss to NAU on Feb. 16. UND went 13-1 at home during the 2011-12 season.
- The Big Sky is the third conference that UND has been affiliated with since the program began in 1904. At the Division II level, UND was a member of the North Central Conference from 1922 to 2008. After spending one season as an independent during its first season of Division I play in 2008-09, UND spent the next three seasons in the Great West Conference.
- With the addition of the Thunderbirds and UND, the Big Sky basketball playing members grew to 11 this season. Southern Utah played last season in the Summit League, while UND wrapped up a three-year run in the GWC.
- The top seven teams from the regular season will all advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament where, if they do advance, UND would have a crack at earning its first NCAA Tournament berth. UND won the GWC Tournament in 2011 and 2012 and advanced to the CIT Postseason Tournament both seasons.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: EASTERN WASHINGTON
- Head coach Jim Hayford is in his second season leading the Eastern Washington program. After leading the Eagles to a 15-17 mark a season ago, Hayford and his team are 9-19 and 6-11 in Big Sky play.
- The Eagles, who are in ninth in the league standings, are still alive for a postseason tournament berth. EWU has games at Idaho State and at Weber State remaining on its schedule.
- Freshman Venky Jois is one of the top rookies in the Big Sky and leads the Eagles in scoring (12.7 ppg) and rebounding (9.3 rpg) in both overall and league games. Jois also leads all Big Sky player with 62 total blocks (2.5/g) in 25 games.
- EWU leads the Big Sky averaging 5.5 blocks per game as a team.
- Jois had a double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting with UND. He was the only EWU player to reach double figures in the contest.
- The Eagles managed just 47 points in the game at The Betty - that's the second lowest point total of the season for EWU (46 vs. Montana; 2/2/13). EWU is just 1-13 when scoring 70 points or less.
- EWU is coming off an overtime loss to Northern Colorado - falling 88-80 to the Bears.
- Freshman Tyler Harver scored 22 points in just his second start of the season. In his last five games, Harvey is 15.4 ppg. He had scored just 17 points total in his first 13 games for the Eagles.
- Starting center Martin Seiferth had 11 points and grabbed a career-high 21 rebounds. Jois added 14 points as EWU had four players in double figures.
- EWU ranks at the bottom of the league in free throw percentage, making just 65.1 of its attempts.
LAST TIME OUT
North Dakota 74, Portland State 66 (Feb. 28)
PORTLAND, Ore. - North Dakota picked up its 10th win in Big Sky play and all but secured a berth in the league's postseason tournament with a 74-66 victory over Portland State on Thursday. Junior Troy Huff led all scorers with 18 points and classmate Aaron Anderson added 16 to pace the visitors.
"This was a total team effort," UND head coach Brian Jones said. "We came out with a purpose and did a great job from the start in this one. This gets us to 10 wins and that is really big for us. It is also our fifth road win in league play and that says a lot about the character of this team."
Anderson hit six free throws late in the second half to reach the 1,000-point plateau for his career becoming the 33rd player in UND history to do so. With Huff reaching that feat just over a month ago, the duo becomes the first two UND teammates to join that club in the same season.
Huff hit back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the second half to extend what was just a 43-42 lead for the Green and White to seven. The Vikings never really threatened after that as UND (13-15, 10-8 BSC) finished off the season sweep of PSU.
Anderson had 10 first-half points and went 4-for-4 from the field to keep his team in front during the opening 20 minutes. He did not make a field goal after halftime, but went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe to help seal the victory.
"It's a great accomplishment, but all I care about is the victory," Anderson said. "It took a while to get that one locked down, but it feels good to win on the road."
Junior Jamal Webb finished with 11 points and Shane Benton added 10 to give UND four double-figure scorers. Webb added seven assists and seven rebounds.
HUFF, ANDERSON FIRST JUNIORS TO REACH 1,000-POINT CLUB IN SAME SEASON
A 3-pointer from the top of the key vs. Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 moved junior Troy Huff into an elite club in the history of North Dakota basketball. His classmate Aaron Anderson joined him on Thursday, reaching the plateau with a pair of second-half free throws at Portland State. Huff and Anderson became the first junior teammates and only the third pair overall in UND history to reach the milestone during the same season. The other two sets of teammates to reach the 1,000-point plateau in the same season were Chris Fahrbach and Mike Greulich (1978-79) and Marcus Travis and Hunter Reineke (1999-2000).
Huff's trey at the 13-minute of the second half brought his career total to 1,002 points as he became the 32nd UND player and just ninth junior to reach that milestone. Patrick Mitchell - a captain on last year's squad - was the last UND player to add his name to this list. Mitchell finished his career with 1,136 points and stands in 21st now. Huff surpassed Mitchell with his 23-point outing at Montana and has moved up 18 spots to 14th (1,245) in the last 12 games.
UND has two games remaining in Big Sky play and holds a 10-8 record, which is good for third place in the league standings. Here is a look at the two remaining opponents and who they have left in Big Sky play:
at Eastern Washington, March 2 (6-10, won 65-47 on Jan. 17 in Grand Forks)
vs. NC (Feb. 28), vs. UND (March 2), at ISU (March 7), at WSU (March 9)
vs. Southern Utah, March 9 (8-8, lost 79-67 on Dec. 17 in Cedar City)
vs. MSU ( Feb. 28), vs. UM (March 4), at NC (March 7), at UND (March 9)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Junior Troy Huff is enjoying the best scoring season of his career, averaging 18.7 ppg in overall games and 19.2 ppg in Big Sky play. He qualifies for the scoring title in Big Sky play (currently third) since he has played in 17 of UND's 18 league tilts, but he'll need to play in 75 percent of UND's games to qualify for the overall title (would be leading). The same standards apply for the NCAA where he would rank among the top 40 scorers nationally entering the weekend if he had not missed eight games due to a broken jaw. With two regular season games remaining and a possible Big Sky Tournament berth, Huff could reach 75 percent of games played if UND were to make at least a two-game run in the postseason.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
UND has played three games this season where a 3-point attempt at the buzzer could have provided a win for the shooting team. The first one did not go in favor of UND as Chad White hit a contested 3-pointer to give South Dakota State a 71-70 victory over the Green and White on Nov. 28. The next two nailbiters have come in league play and both times the opponent's shot was the off the mark. The first of those was at Northern Arizona when Dewayne Russell missed a heave from just inside half court that would have given his Lumberjacks the victory on Jan. 26. The last was this past Thursday when Sac State's John Dickson saw his 30-footer go wide right in a 49-48 loss at The Betty. Junior Troy Huff saw his contested 3-pointer at the end of regulation vs. Northern Arizona on Saturday miss, forcing the UND's first overtime of the season. The Lumberjacks would scrape out a 74-72 victory thanks to the extra session.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND's career charts for steals with 63 already this season - a total that is the fourth highest in a single season as well. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.4 spg in overall play and ranks 17th nationally in overall games (2.3/g). Webb is closing fast on UND's career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 44 in 18 Big Sky games to give him 172 for his career. Webb also joined a new career top 10 recently, moving into fifth on UND's all-time charts for assists with 350.
HUFF NETS FIRST two BIG SKY POW AWARDS
Junior Troy Huff was named the Big Sky Player of the Week on New Year's Eve after his 14-point, 12-rebound outing in the 56-53 victory over Bowling Green. He was the first UND player to receive the honor from the team's new conference. The double-double was the sixth of his career as he played in just his second game back from a broken jaw. He picked up his second honor three weeks later after leading UND to pair of back-to-back home wins over Eastern Washington and Portland State.
WILMER CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last 24 games for UND and is subsequently playing the best basketball of his UND career. Wilmer, who had only three starts coming into the season, is averaging 5.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.3 bgp for the season. He has scored 156 points this season, which is 100 more than he scored as a reserve in 29 games last season. Wilmer has set or equaled his career-high in scoring four times in those 16 starts, chipping in with 11 points at South Dakota State (Nov. 28), upping that to 12 at North Dakota State (Dec. 9) before scoring 15 against Southern Utah and Northern Colorado. He added his first career double-double against the Thunderbirds in UND's Big Sky debut by adding 11 rebounds to his point total.
ROSTER ROUND UP
Head coach Brian Jones has a 16-man roster, but only 11 of those players are now active for the 2012-13 season. The team was hoping for good news from the NCAA on granting Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash a waiver to play immediately and not have to sit out this season, but the organization denied UND's request. Houston Baptist transfer Dustin Hobaugh transferred to UND after one season with the Huskies to pursue a degree in commercial aviation. Hobaugh is sitting out the 2012-13 season and will have three left to play starting with the 2013-14 campaign. Besides Nash and Hobaugh, Jones is using redshirt seasons on junior college transer Ryan Salmonson and freshman walk-on Thomas Blake. Salmonson played two seasons at Cosumnes River Community College, while Blake prepped at St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md. JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor played in eight of the team's first nine, averaging 7.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg, but has been ruled academically ineligible for the second semester.
UND's quintet of Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff, Josh Schuler and Jamal Webb produced 65.4 percent of UND's points in 2010-11, which was tops among any freshman class in the country. As sophomores, that unit upped that number to 70.9 percent of the team's scoring (1,526 of 2,153). However, as sophomores, that unit had company at the top of the national charts. The Memphis sophomores, a unit UND edged out last season (63.9 percent as freshmen), produced 73.6 percent (1,923 of 2,614) and NDSU's sophomores concluded the Bison season scoring 71.3 percent (1,564 of 2,194) of their team's points. So far, the 2012-13 juniors, which includes the addition of JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor, have accounted for 72.1 (1,340 of 1,867) percent of the team's scoring through 26 games.
Seven teams on UND's 2011-12 docket advanced to postseason tournaments, including four to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota State). UND beat two of those teams at home (Montana and South Dakota State). North Dakota State and Western Illinois both made the CBI Invitational, while GWC foe Utah Valley earned an at-large bid to join UND in the CIT Tournament.The schedule does not get any easier in 2012-13, as UND's slate has seven more teams on it that advanced to postseason tournaments. Kansas State advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa made the second round of the NIT. Both Montana and South Dakota State lost their first games in the NCAA Tournament. Bowling Green and Weber State joined UND in the CIT Postseason Tournament, while NDSU lost in the first round of the CBI Invitational.
UND split its four contests against Big Sky opponents in 2011-12. The Green and White defeated eventual regular season and tournament champion Montana 88-81 in overtime at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND also split a home-and-home series with Idaho State and lost at Sacramento State (75-64) after leading the Hornets by six at halftime.
CHENEY, Wash. - North Dakota wraps up a four-game road swing on Saturday with a lot on the line at Big Sky foe Eastern Washington. Tipoff against the Eagles is set for 4:05 p.m. CT.