Game Notes: Homestand wraps up with EWU and PSU
UND VS. EASTERN WASHINGTON SERIES
All-time: Series tied 1-1
In Grand Forks: UND leads 1-0 (75-71; 1982-83)
Division I: First Meeting
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Eastern Washington: First Meeting
Eastern Washington Head Coach Jim Hayford vs. North Dakota: First Meeting
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
TV: MidCo Sports Network (Local 27, 622 HD), Fox College Sports Atlantic, DirecTV 623
Radio: 1440 AM (Grand Forks) and 970 AM (Fargo) 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...
• Eastern Washington, who is first up on Thursday at 7:05 p.m., played a home-and-home series with UND back in the early 1980s, defeating the Green and White 81-72 on Dec. 4, 1981 before falling the next season at the Hyslop Sports Center, 75-71 (Dec. 11, 1982) in the return game.
• It’s been even longer since Portland State, who will venture to ‘The Betty’ on Saturday for a 2:05 p.m. tipoff, played in the Peace Garden State.
• The Vikings also played UND in a home-and-home series, but this one occurred in late 1970s. PSU won the first meeting in Portland by the score of 69-61, then, UND dealt the Vikings a 59-56 loss on their lone trip to Grand Forks.
• UND rebounded from its home loss to Montana on Thursday with a convincing 86-73 victory over Montana State to earn the weekend split in Big Sky play.
• Junior Jamal Webb scored a career-high 23 points, including a perfect 5-for-5 effort from 3-point range as UND improved to 4-3 at home and 2-4 in Big Sky play.
• Webb finished 9-for-11 from the field as UND shot 50 percent or better (52.8 percent) from the floor for the first time in Big Sky play this season.
• Webb’s perfect night from 3-point territory also helped UND shoot 52.6 percent (10-for-19) from that distance - the team’s best effort since a 12-for-22 (54.5 percent) effort in the win over Crown College on Nov. 14.
• Webb also equaled his season-high with seven assists for the second straight night against the Bobcats and reached double figures for the third straight game (first time this season).
• He needs five assists to reach 300 for his career and currently stands in ninth place on UND’s all-time charts in that category with 295.
• Webb was not the only 20-plus point scorer for UND in the win over Montana State as classmates Aaron Anderson and Troy Huff each added 20 a piece. It was the first time this season UND had multiple 20-point scorers in a game. That trio each had reached 20-plus points once before this season, but none were in the same game.
• For Anderson, half of his points came in the final three minutes when he went 10-for-10 from the foul line to ice the game. He leads the Big Sky with 47 FTs made in league play.
• Huff’s 20-point outing came during his first start since the season opener vs. K-State and on the heels of a season-high 24 points off the bench against Montana. He had played in a reserve role in the previous five games since returning from a broken jaw.
• Huff’s 44-point weekend also moved him to within 14 points of joining UND’s 1,000-point club. He has 986 for his career and is seeking to become just the ninth junior in school history to reach that plateau.
• Anderson is also racing towards the 1,000-point club as his 20-point effort against the Bobcats pushed him past the 800-point mark (816) for his career.
MORE IN THE PAINT
• UND improved to 4-3 at home with the win over Montana State after going 13-1 during at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center during the 2011-12 campaign. The Green and White are seeking their first back-to-back home wins of the season.
• 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.
• The only other double-double for a UND player belongs to Troy Huff, who 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.
• 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: EASTERN WASHINGTON
• The Eagles will be making their second trip to Grand Forks, but first since the 1982-83 season, which was the last time these two teams met on the hardwood.
• Picked to finish sixth by the coaches and third by the media in the Big Sky preseason polls, EWU brings a 2-4 league record into ‘The Betty’ and a 4-12 overall record.
• The Eagles have lost three of four since leading scorer Justin Crosgile, who was averaging 14.7 ppg, decided to transfer at the break.
• The victory, however, was an emphatic one, as the Eagles beat Northern Arizona by 23 last Thursday. Collin Chiverton scored a season-high 22 points to place EWU in that victory.
• Chiverton returned for the Montana game on Jan. 3 after missing six games for personal reasons. Chiverton was the Big Sky Newcomer of the Year a season ago and is averaging 10.9 ppg. He has come off the bench since his return.
• Freshman Venky Jois, who is one of six foreign players on head coach Jim Hayford’s roster, is nearly averaging a double-double. The Australian is scoring 13.1 ppg, while leading the Big Sky with a 9.3 rpg clip in all games. He was named to the CollegeHoopsNet.com Mid-Year All-Big Sky Conference Team.
• Jois and center Martin Seiferth are the only Eagles to start all 16 games this season.
• EWU could have evened its Big Sky mark at 3-3 on Saturday, but fell to Sac State at home 60-53.
• EWU is still in search of its first road win of the season. The Eagles are 0-7 away from Cheney.
• The Eagles have attemped 419 3-pointers this season - 117 more than next closest BSC team (Montana State; 302).
LAST TIME OUT
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.
Montana 87, UND 72 (Jan. 10) • Grand Forks, N.D.
Montana forward Mathias Ward scored a season-high 27 points and the visiting Grizzlies used a second-half surge to defeat North Dakota 77-62 in the first meeting between the two teams as Big Sky foes Thursday. The visitors also avenged an 88-81 overtime loss to UND a season ago in a non-conference tilt.
UND’s Troy Huff scored a season-high 24 points off the bench for the home team, but his efforts were trumped by Ward and company as the Griz (9-4, 5-0 BSC) remained unbeaten in league play. The loss dropped UND (4-10) to 1-4 in league play.
Ward and Huff each scored 15 points for their respective teams in the opening half as the teams went back-and-forth before the Griz managed to take a 38-36 lead at halftime thanks to a pair of free throws by Will Cherry in the closing minute.
But, it was Cherry’s second 3-pointer of the half that might have been the biggest make of the opening 20 minutes for the visitors. It came after Huff made a 3-point play the old-fashioned way to put his squad in the lead at 32-28 with just under three minutes to play. Cherry had 12 of his 14 points in the opening stanza that saw both teams shoot at least 50 percent from the floor.
With a combined 44 points in the two outings vs. the Montana schools, junior Troy Huff moved to within 14 points of becoming just the 32nd player in UND history and only eighth junior to join the school’s 1,000-point club. Huff is averaging a career-best 16.3 ppg through seven games this season. He has put together back-to-back 20-plus scoring games (24 vs. Montana and 20 vs. Montana State) for just the second time in his career. Classmate Aaron Anderson also has a chance to join this club late in the season if his average holds up. Anderson has 816 career points and is averaging a career-best 13.5 ppg as well.
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 (17.6 ppg) and Aaron Anderson (17.5 ppg) trail only Southern Utah’s Jackson Stevenett (19.0 ppg) in scoring average. Huff averaged 22.0 ppg in the split with the Montana schools, scoring a season-high 24 points against the Griz. Anderson was held to single digits for the first time in Big Sky play against UM, but responded with a 20-point outing in the win over Montana State.
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. He also added five steals to is second-place perch on UND’s all-time list in that category, bringing his career total to 140.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 30 already this season. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.3 spg. Webb still has a ways to go to catch UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 176 from 1989-93. He has 13 in five Big Sky games to give him 139 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 seven helpers against Montana State on Saturday, Webb pushed his career total to 295, surpassing Hunter Berg (293; 1998-2000) on the list.
HUFF BACK IN ACTION
Junior Troy Huff has returned to action for UND’s past six games. Huff, who scored 12 points in the season opener vs. K-State before suffering a broken jaw, has provided a spark off the UND bench since his return and made his first start since the Wildcats’ game on Saturday vs. Montana State. The junior has reached double figures in all six games since his return, including putting up back-to-back 20-point affairs for just the second time in his career against the Montana schools. Huff is averaging 16.3 ppg in all games and is second in Big Sky play, averaging 17.6 ppg in those tilts.
JUNIOR DUO SEEKING ELITE 1,000-POINT CLUB STATUS
Only eight UND players have reached the 1,000-point club during their junior seasons, but two juniors on this year’s team have a chance to push that number 10. Milwaukee native Troy Huff needs only 14 points to join those eight others, while classmate Aaron Anderson is 184 points away with at least 15 games left on the schedule. Huff is on pace to achieve the feat Thursday vs. Eastern Washington if his average holds, while Anderson may hit the mark late in the campaign if his average of 13.5 ppg holds up down the stretch.
ANDERSON PLAYING BIG
Junior Aaron Anderson is among the top five scorers in league games so far this season. Through six games, the Brooklyn Park., Minn., native is averaging 17.5 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 12 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 6.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg and 1.4 bgp for the season. He has scored 94 points this season, which are 11 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 14 games, UND is 214-for-280 from the stripe (76.4 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 six Big Sky games, UND is shooting 123-158 from the stripe (77.8 percent - second among Big Sky schools).
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 69.3 percent of the team’s scoring through 15 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 College Basketball Invitational.
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.