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Senior Mitch Wilmer and junior Josh Schuler will look to contribute to a home win over Idaho State on Saturday that would put UND right back at .500 in Big Sky play.
Game Notes: UND looks for season sweep of ISU
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Updated: Tuesday 02/01/2013 17:08:47 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - UND will look to get back to the .500 mark in Big Sky play on Saturday when Idaho State pays a visit to Grand Forks. Tipoff against the Bengals is set for 2:05 p.m. at The Betty.

UND VS. IDAHO STATE SERIES
All-time:
UND leads 2-0
In Grand Forks: UND leads 1-0
Division I: UND leads 2-1
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Idaho State: 2-1
Idaho State Head Coach Bill Evans vs. North Dakota: 0-1

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
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IN THE PAINT...
• This is the second straight season the Bengals have made the trek east to the Peace Garden State. UND defeated Idaho State 63-47 at The Betty on Nov. 14. The 47 points were a season-low allowed by the Green and White.
• It is also the second straight season these two teams have played a home-and-home series as Idaho State defended its home court last season with a 76-63 victory at Holt Arena.
• The same was not the case this season when UND traveled to Pocatello as the visitors picked up their first Big Sky win as a league member with a 66-53 victory.
• Junior Aaron Anderson had a game-high 18 points. He has led all players in scoring in each of the three previous contests against Idaho State.
• The Green and White fell below .500 in league after suffering a 66-51 loss to Weber State on Thursday. The same scenario took place last week on the road after UND dropped its Thursday night encounter with Sac State. The squad responded on Saturday with a win at Northern Arizona to move back to a level mark in conference action.
• UND is currently tied for fifth in the league standings with Sac State - a game behind Montana State and Southern Utah (6-5) and only a half-game ahead of Northern Arizona (4-6, 7th). Eastern Washington and Northern Colorado are only a game behind at 4-7.
• The Wildcats led by just three at halftime, but used an 11-0 spurt to start the second half to create enough separation to pick up the Big Sky road win - the team’s league best fifth such victory of the season.
• Weber State (five), Montana (four) and North Dakota (two) are the only Big Sky teams with multiple road wins this season. Idaho State is 1-5 on the road in league play.
• Junior Josh Schuler led UND in scoring as he was the only player in green and white to reach double figures. He had 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting. It was the second time this season the Urbana, Ohio native has led the squad in scoring.
• Schuler has posted back-to-back double-figure scoring games after a 13-point showing in the win at Northern Arizona.  Nine of those came in the second half.
• The junior guard trio of Troy Huff (18.8 ppg), Anderson (14.0 ppg) and Jamal Webb (9.3 ppg) each had seven points to combine for 21, which is half of the 42 points that threesome came in averaging per contest.
• For Huff, it was the first time he was held to single digits in 12 games this season. He had scored 20-plus points in four of the last five games. Huff did have a team-high seven rebounds to pace UND in that category for the sixth straight game.
• Anderson only got off five shot attempts and turned the ball over a season-high four times. He had a career-high 10 assists and one turnover in the victory over Northern Arizona last Saturday.
• Junior Brandon Brekke returned to the lineup and played 17 minutes off the bench. It was his first action since playing five minutes in the win over Bowling Green on Dec. 29. He missed 11 games total after suffering a concussion in the loss to NDSU (Dec. 9).
• Brekke’s eight points helped UND hold a 14-10 advantage in bench points over the Wildcats, but the visitors dominated the glass (40-28 advantage) and scored 19 points off 15 UND turnovers and also added 17 second-chance points to aid their cause.
• Huff scored a season-high 26 points in the NAU ictory and it was his putback with three seconds remaining that provided the winning basket. He made a career-high 11 field goals in the contest and led UND in rebounding with eight.
• Senior Mitch Wilmer added 10 points and five rebounds. He went 4-for-4 from the free throw line and is 11-for-12 from the stripe over his last four games.
• The only two underclassmen on the active roster provided a spark off the UND bench as well. Sophomore Lenny Antwi went 3-for-4 from 3-point range to finish with nine points, while redshirt freshman Shane Benton chipped in with a career-high seven points.
• The 22-point deficit was the largest overcome during UND’s Division I era.
• With the win at NAU, head coach Brian Jones tied former NBA coaching legend Bill Fitch for fifth on the all-time career wins list at UND with 94. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67.
• The Lumberjacks were one of three Big Sky teams that the Green and White had never played prior to this season. The other two squads were Southern Utah and Weber State.
• With the road win at NAU, UND is now 4-1 since Huff moved back into the starting lineup for the first time since the season opener vs. K-State. He missed the next eight games with a broken jaw and came off the bench during his first four games back.
• After a rare off night at the free throw line (13-for-23) against Weber State, UND dropped to second in free throw shooting in league games at 76.8 percent. Montana leads the league in both Big Sky (77.3) and overall (76.9) games. 
• Anderson leads all Big Sky players with 66 free throws made in league play, which is two more than the next closest competitor - Montana’s Will Cherry (58). With his three makes in the loss to Weber State, Anderson has now made 300 for his career (372 attempts). He needs to make 15 more to crack UND’s all-time top 10 list.
• Anderson has 94 makes overall from the free throw line. His charity stripe work has accounted for just over a third of his team-leading 273 points (34.4 percent).
• Webb continues to lead the Big Sky in steals after securing two in the loss to the Wildcats. He has 11 games with three or more steals and leads in the Big Sky in overall (2.5 spg) and league (2.4 spg) games.
• With three assists against WSU, Webb moved closer to seventh place on UND’s all-time career chart for that category, pushing his tally to 311.
• Huff  and Anderson are not far behind Webb in the steals department for  league games. Huff is second at 2.4 spg, while Anderson is tied for seventh at 1.4 spg.
 
MORE IN THE PAINT
• UND dropped to 6-4 at home with its three-game win streak following the loss to Weber State on Jan. 31. UND went 13-1 at home during the 2011-12 season.
• UND suffered another injury to key contributor as senior captain Doug Archer went down in practice earlier this week with a sprained ankle. He missed the Weber State game and there is no timetable for his return.
• 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 down the stretch.
• 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 (Dec. 31) accolade for his efforts against the Falcons - just his second game back from the jaw injury. He picked up his second weekly honor on Jan. 21 after helping UND post wins over EWU and Portland State.
• 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 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 anda advanced to the CIT Postseason Tournament both seasons.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: IDAHO STATE
• Head coach Bill Evans is in his first season leading the Bengals program after spending the previous four as an assistant at fellow Big Sky member Montana.
• Prior to his stint in Missoula, Evans was the head coach at Southern Utah for 15 seasons. The Thunderbirds just joined the Big Sky Conference as well this season. Evans led the T-Birds to the NCAA Tournament in 2001.
• Evans and the Bengals are off to a 4-16 start this season and are mired in a four-game Big Sky losing streak. ISU dropped its first three league games, including a 66-53 loss to UND on Jan. 3 before winning three of its next four.
• Senior guard Melvin Morgan is the team’s leading scorer at 12.2 ppg overall and he has upped that tally to 12.6 ppg in Big Sky play. UND held Morgan to just two points in this year’s previous meeting.
• Last season, Morgan was held scoreless in the Bengals loss to UND in Grand Forks, but responded with 17 points in the win in Pocatello.
• Point guard Tomas Sanchez led the Bengals with 15 points in the meeting on Jan. 3.
• The Bengals bring the league’s second-ranked scoring defense into the contest, yielding only 63.6 ppg in Big Sky play, but the ISU offense is last in the Big Sky, scoring only 58.0 ppg.
• Morgan is the only Bengal to start all 20 games this season. Nine different Bengals have started at least one game for Evans.
• The Big Sky’s tallest player - Jakob Kusmieruk - returned to action at Montana on Jan. 24 after missing nine games with a shoulder injury. Kusmieruk stands 7-foot-4 and is averaging 2.8 ppg in nine contests this season.
• Junior Chris Hansen is the only player to make a 3-pointer in all 20 games for ISU. He averages 12.1 ppg in Big Sky play (46-for-127; 36.2%).

LAST TIME OUT
Weber State 66, North Dakota 51 (Jan. 31) • Grand Forks, N.D.
Weber State used a pair of big second-half runs and pulled  away late to register a 66-51 victory over North Dakota in Big Sky play Thursday at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Weber State senior Frank Otis had a double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds, while junior Davion Berry scored 17 of his 21 game-high points in the second half to pace the Wildcats (14-5, 9-2 BSC), who snapped a brief two-game losing streak.

UND (8-12, 5-6 BSC) could never get on track offensively as the 51 points were a season-low scored at home. The team’s top three scorers were held to a combined 21 points as juniors Troy Huff (18.8 ppg), Aaron Anderson (14.0 ppg) and Jamal Webb (9.3 ppg) each scored seven points in the setback.

Fellow junior Josh Schuler was the lone UND player to reach double figures, finishing with 12 points. Classmate Brandon Brekke returned to the floor for the first time since the Bowling Green game on Dec. 29 and scored eight points and pulled down four rebounds in 17 minutes off the bench.

For Huff, it was the first time he was held to below double figures in 12 games this season. It was also a rare off night at the free throw line for UND, who came into the leading the Big Sky with a 78.9 percent clip in league play. The home team converted just 13-of-23 attempts and connected only twice from beyond the arc (2-for-8).

NORTHERN ARIZONA SNAPSHOT
UND 81, Northern Arizona 79 (Jan. 26) • Flagstaff, Ariz.
Junior Troy Huff’s putback with three seconds remaining lifted North Dakota to a dramatic 81-79 victory over Northern Arizona on Saturday in a wild Big Sky basketball game at the Walkup Skydome.

Huff finished with a season-high 26 points and UND (8-11, 5-5 BSC) somehow found a way to erase a 22-point first-half deficit and overcome a 35-point outing by NAU senior Gabe Rogers to move back to .500 in Big Sky play with the road win. The Lumberjacks fell to 7-13 and 4-6 in league play.

Things appeared bleak early on as Rogers helped stake his team to a 34-12 lead midway through the first half as NAU opened the game making 15 of its first 20 shots from the floor.  He finished with 17 first-half points as the Lumberjacks shot 62.5 percent in the opening 20 minutes.

UND would begin to chip away at the deficit with a strong finish to the first half, closing it on a 24-13 run. Senior Mitch Wilmer, who finished with 10 points, had six points during that stretch as the visitors pulled to within 11 points at the break. Antwi had two 3-pointers and Benton added five points in the first half to help aid the rally.

After watching the Lumberjacks’ scorching start to the first half, UND responded with one of its own in the second half by starting 13-for-14 from the field. The quick start allowed UND to build a double-digit lead of its own before NAU tied things up down the stretch.

BENGALS BEWARE
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.

TRIFECTA VAULTS HUFF INTO 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 vs. Eastern Washington (Jan. 17) 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 20th.

At some point over the next season and a half, Huff will likely have a couple of his classmates join him. Aaron Anderson is the next in line to reach the milestone (886 career points) and if his season average holds up (currently 13.7 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 - AMONG BIG SKY’S TOP DUO
When it comes to Big Sky play, UND is home to one of the top scoring duos in the conference. Junior Troy Huff (20.1 ppg) leads the Big Sky in league scoring and classmate Aaron Anderson (16.8 ppg) is fifth. Only Southern Utah, with Jackson Stevenett (18.6 ppg) and Damon Heuir (18.0 ppg) have two players in the top five with UND.

Huff has reached double figures in nine of 10 Big Sky games, including a season-high 26 points in the win over Northern Arizona. Anderson has reached 20-plus points three times in league action. He scored a career-high 25 points vs. Portland State. Both Huff (18.8 ppg) and Anderson (14.0 ppg) are averaging career-highs in overall games as well.

WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 45 already this season.  He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.5 spg. Webb is closing fast on UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 28 in 11 Big Sky games to give him 154 for his career. Webb also joined a new career top 10 recently and has moved into the eighth spot on the all-time assist chart with 311.

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 fifth 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 16 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 6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg and 1.3 bgp for the season. He has scored 120 points this season, which are 37 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 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. He is coming off a 10-point outing in the win over Northern Arizona, which put him back in double figures for the first time in five games.

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 18 games, UND is 273-for-353 from the stripe (77.3 percent).  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 11 Big Sky games, UND is shooting 195-254 from the stripe (76.7 percent - first among Big Sky schools).

TOUGH SLEDDING
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.

SCORING SIZZLE
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 71.9 (953 of 1,324) percent of the team’s scoring through 20 games.

WHAT’S BACK THIS SEASON
Head coach Brian Jones has four starters back and six of his top seven scorers from his 2012 GWC Tournament championship team. The seventh-year head coach will have to replace second team All-GWC 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.
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