Game Notes: UND seeks three-game Big Sky win streak
UND VS. PORTLAND STATE SERIES
All-time: UND leads 2-0
In Grand Forks: UND leads 1-0 (59-56; 1979-80)
Division I: First Meeting
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Portland State: First Meeting
Portland State Head Coach vs. North Dakota: First Meeting
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 1440 AM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.BigSkyTV.org (free)
Live Stats: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
• Both UND and Portland State are in a five-way tie for fourth place in the Big Sky standings, just a half-game out of third and a full-game from being tied for ninth.
• Eight of 11 league teams currently have below .500 records, but the winner of this game will pull even through eight contests. No other 3-4 teams play each other on Saturday.
• Much like this past Thursday’s opponent Eastern Washington, the Vikings also played UND in a home-and-home series more than 30 years ago. UND won both contests, taking a 69-61 victory in Portland during the 1978-79 season before dealing the Vikings a 59-56 loss on their lone trip to Grand Forks (1979-80).
• The Green and White are in position for a three-game winning streak thanks to posting their largest Division I home win of the season on Thursday, beltting Eastern Washington 65-47.
• Junior Troy Huff had a memorable night, reaching the 1,000-point plateau with a 3-pointer nearly midway through the second half. Huff’s 3-pointer was part of a 22-3 run by the home team to open the second half.
• UND trailed 29-27 at the break, but found a way to win a game when they trailed at halftime for the first time this season. The squad is now 1-8 in those situations.
• Huff finished the night with team-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds to register his second double-double of the season and seventh of his career. Huff has now reached double figures in all eight games he has played this season and is averaging a career-high 16.5 ppg.
• Huff had 11 first-half points as UND overcame a sluggish start from the field (28.1 percent) to regroup at halftime and shoot 46.4 percent after intermission. The defense also limited the Eagles to 18 second-half points - the fewest allowed after halftime by UND this season.
• Huff was joined in double figures by classmates Aaron Anderson (17) and Jamal Webb (11). • Anderson, who did not make a trip to the foul for just the third time this season, made a season-high seven field goals (12 attempts) and knocked down 3-of-4 from beyond the arc.
• Webb reached double figures for the fourth straight game - his longest such streak of the season. He added four assists and equaled his career-high with five steals. He leads the Big Sky with 32 steals this season and a 2.7 spg average.
• Webb’s four assists put him one shy of becoming just the ninth UND player in school history to dish out 300 in a career.
• Webb is already second on the all-time steals list at UND with 144 and he now has a teammate accompanying him on that top 10 list. With four steals against EWU, Huff has now moved into ninth place with 108 for his career.
• Junior Josh Schuler started his 50th career game against Eastern Washington, while classmate Aaron Anderson will start his 50th on Saturday vs. Portland State. Webb currently leads all active players with 73 career starts.
MORE IN THE PAINT
• UND improved to 5-3 at home with the win over Eastern Washington after going 13-1 during at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center during the 2011-12 campaign.
• With two more wins, head coach Brian Jones will tie Bill Fitch on the all-time career wins list at UND with 94. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67.
• UND suffered another injury to a starter in the NDSU game (Dec. 9) as power forward Brandon Brekke left the game after taking an inadvertent elbow to his head. Brekke played just three minutes against the Bison. As a sophomore in UND’s 59-54 victory over the Bison, Brekke scored a game-high 17 points.
• Brekke returned against Bowling Green on Dec. 28, but only logged five minutes of playing time. He did pull down four rebounds in his limited action, but did not make the road trip to Idaho State and Weber State and missed the games vs. Montana and Montana State at home this past weekend.
• Senior Mitch Wilmer and junior Alonzo Traylor both posted their first career double-doubles in the team’s Big Sky debut at Southern Utah (Dec. 17), but the T-birds were able to hold off the visitors with a 10-for-12 stretch at the foul line in the closing two minutes.
• Wilmer scored 15 points and added a career-best 11 rebounds, while Traylor came off the bench to score 13 points and equaled Wilmer’s rebounding total.
• Unfortunately for Traylor, the double-double was the last action of the season for the JUCO-transfer, who is academically ineligible for the second semester.
• With his 18-point, 11-rebound effort vs. Eastern Washington, Huff now as two of the team’s four double-doubles this season. He also had 14 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Bowling Green (Dec. 28).
• Huff earned the program’s first Big Sky Player of the Week accolade for his efforts against the Falcons - just his second game back from injury.
• The Big Sky is the third conference that UND has been affiliated with since the program begin 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 Great West Conference.
• The Thunderbirds were one of three Big Sky teams UND had never played. The others are Northern Arizona and Weber State.
• 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 Great West Conference Tournament in 2011 and 2012 anda advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament both seasons.
• Senior Jordan Allard played in his 100th career game on Monday at Southern Utah. The Fargo native is the active career leader in that category for UND.
• Allard corralled a career-high equaling 10 rebounds in the win over Idaho State (Jan. 3). He also added five points as the UND bench outscored ISU’s 23-6.
• Jones has four starters back and six of his top seven scorers from his 2012 Great West Conference Tournament championship team. The seventh-year head coach will have to replace second team All-Great West performer Patrick Mitchell, who averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.4 rpg during his final season with the program.
• The 2011-12 squad posted a 17-15 record and earned an automatic berth to the CollegeInsider.com Tournament for the second consecutive season. UND lost at Drake, 70-64, in the opening round of postseason play.
OPPONENT PREVIEW:PORTLAND STATE
• These teams last met when 1,000-point scorers Mike Greulich and Tood Bakken led UND to a 59-56 victory in Grand Forks in 1979.
• PSU head coach Tyler Geving is in his fourth season leading the Vikings program. His squad was picked to finish fifth by both the league’s head coaches and medi members in their respective preseason polls after going 10-6 and finishing third in 2011-12.
• The Vikings arrive in Grand Forks still searching for their first road win of the season (0-7) after falling to Northern Colorado by 17 on Thursday.
• A hot-shooting start by the homestanding Bears never allowed the Vikings to make a contest of it as they fell 67-50.
• The 17-point loss was the largest of the season in Big Sky play for PSU, who took Weber State to overtime (73-69 loss) and fell at Montana State by three (62-59) and at Montana by seven (62-55).
• Foward Renado Parker - the team’s leading scorer (11.4 ppg) - played only three minutes against the Bears before leaving with an ankle injury. Parker was coming his first double-double of the season (20 pts; 11 rebs) in the home win over Northern Arizona.
• The Vikes have four players averaging in double figures, but no players reached that plateau against the Bears.
• Forward Aaron Moore did have nine points as nine different Vikings scored. Moore is leading the team in scoring in Big Sky games with a 13.7 ppg clip. He is also the team’s top rebounder (6.6 rpg).
• Point guard Lateef McMullan is averaging 12.0 ppg and 4.6 apg in league play, while shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (15-for-30).
• Backcourt mate Michael Harthun is shooting even better than McMullan’s 50 percent clip from deep, connecting on 51.9 percent of his attempts (14-for-27). Harthun is averaging 10.3 ppg in Big Sky play.
LAST TIME OUT
Junior Troy Huff registered a double-double and reached the 1,000-point plateau to lead North Dakota to a 65-47 victory over Eastern Washington in Big Sky play on Thursday. Huff finished with team-highs of 18 points and 11 rebounds as he became the 32nd player and just the ninth junior in UND history to reach that milestone.
The largest Division I home win of the season for UND (6-10, 3-4 BSC) also marked the first back-to-back victories for the team (6-10, 3-4 BSC) in league play this season, while Eastern Washington (4-13, 2-5 BSC) dropped its second straight.
UND opened both halves on substantial runs (8-0 to start the game), but it was the 22-3 run after halftime that proved to be the difference in the contest. The home never saw its advantage dip below double figures after that.
MONTANA STATE SNAPSHOT
UND 86, Montana State 73 (Jan. 12) • Grand Forks, N.D.
After falling to the top two teams in the Big Sky in consecutive outings, UND used one of its better shooting performances of the season to snap the two-game skid and get back in the win column. Junior Jamal Webb scored a career-high 23 points and made all five of his 3-point shots to defeat Montana State 86-73 in the first meeting between the two teams in more than 50 seasons. Webb was joined in the 20-plus point category by classmates Troy Huff and Aaron Anderson, who added 20 a piece in the victory.
Webb led a 10-for-19 effort from 3-point range (best of the season for UND against a DI opponent) and went 5-for-5 after starting the season just 7-for-43 from beyond the arc. He also had his second straight game with seven assists.
For Huff, his 20 points came in his first start since the opener at K-State. He led the team with 24 points in Thursday’s loss to Montana.
TRIFECTA LANDS HUFF IN UND'S 1,000-POINT CLUB
A 3-pointer from the top of the key moved junior Troy Huff into an elite club in the history of North Dakota basketball. Huff’s trey at the 13-minute of the second half Thursday vs. Eastern Washington brough 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 20th.
At some point over the next season and a half, Huff will likely have several of his classmates join him. Aaron Anderson is the next in line to reach the milestone and if his season average holds up (currently 13.8 ppg), he could do so by the end of the 2012-13 season. UND has never had two players reach the 1,000-point plateau in the same season.
ANDERSON, HUFF - BIG SKY’S TOP SCORING DUO
When it comes to Big Sky play, UND is home to the top scoring duo in the conference. Juniors Troy Huff (17.7 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (17.4 ppg) trail only Southern Utah’s Jackson Stevenett (18.6 ppg) in scoring average. Huff has reached double figures in all six of his Big Sky games, including a season-high 24 points in the loss to Montana. Anderson has only been held below double figures once in Big Sky play and has reached 20-plus points twice in league action. He scored a career-high 23 points at league-leader Weber State and 20 points in a home win over Montana State (currently third place in the league standings). Both Huff (16.5 ppg) and Anderson (13.8 ppg) are averaging career-highs in overall games.
WEBB FINDS HIS STROKE
Junior Jamal Webb came into the Montana State game with only seven makes from beyond the arc this season. He left with 12 makes, which brought his season percentage up from 16.3 percent to 25 percent. Webb also distributed the ball with a pair of seven-assist outings against UM and MSU, respectively. For the weekend, he averaged 17.0 ppg and 7.0 apg.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 35 already this season. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.7 spg. Webb still has a ways to go to catch UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 19 in seven Big Sky games to give him 145 for his career. He also joined a new career top 10 recently and has moved into the ninth spot on the all-time assist chart. With four helpers against Eastern Washington on Thursday, Webb pushed his career total to 299.
ANDERSON PLAYING BIG
Junior Aaron Anderson is among the top five scorers in league games so far this season. Through seven games, the Brooklyn Park., Minn., native is averaging 17.4 ppg in those contests. He scored a career-high 23 points at Weber State (Jan. 5), but was held to single digits for the first time in league play against Montana with nine points. Anderson is also doing a lot of his damage from the free-throw line where he is 47-of-53 (88.7 percent) on the season in Big Sky play. Against Idaho State and Weber State, Anderson went a perfect 18-for-18. Anderson’s 47 makes are the most by a Big Sky player in league play and his 75 makes in all games also top the BSC charts.
HUFF NETS UND’S FIRST BIG SKY POW AWARD
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. The double-double was the fifth of his career as he played in just his second game back from a broken jaw.
WILMER CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last 13 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 6.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.4 bgp for the season. He has scored 97 points this season, which are 14 more than he had in 55 career games entering the campaign. Wilmer has set or equaled his career-high in scoring four times in those nine 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.
In three career games against Idaho State, junior Aaron Anderson is now averaging 18.7 ppg, which is nearly eight points higher than his career average of 9.8 ppg. In the two games at Holt Arena, Anderson is averaging 19.5 ppg, including a career-high 20-point outing last season.
A BLIP ON THE RADAR
There is no hiding the fact that a 14-for-30 effort at the free throw line was a major culprit in the 73-70 home setback to Kansas City on Dec. 5, but that effort has not been the norm this season. In the team’s other 15 games, UND is 228-for-300 from the stripe (76.0 percent). The team responded with a 16-for-19 effort from the foul line in the Fargodome. In fact the 84.2 percent clip was the highest of the season for UND. In the Big Sky opener, UND also turned in a solid showing at the free throw line, knocking down 28-of-35 attempts (80 percent). Through seven Big Sky games, UND is shooting 137-178 from the stripe (76.9 percent - second among Big Sky schools).
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 College Basketball Invitational.
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 North Dakota State’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 70.3 (737 of 1,049) percent of the team’s scoring through 16 games.
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 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.