North Dakota Athletics
Courtesy: Shawna Noel Schill, UND Division of University & Public Affairs
Senior Dale Jones is averaging a team-best 16.4 ppg over UND's last five contests.
Notes: UND looks to get back in win column at ISU
Release: 02/09/2018

POCATELLO, Idaho -- North Dakota and Idaho State square off Saturday night looking to get back on the winning track. Both teams have lost back-to-back Big Sky games and have won only two league games each since an 81-58 victory for the Fighting Hawks in the first meeting back on Jan. 11. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. CT from Holt Arena.

The tricky part for UND will be trying to get that victory on the road where the Fighting Hawks are just 1-11 this season. 

All-time: UND leads 12-1
In Pocatello: UND leads 4-1
Last Meeting: UND 81, ISU 58 (Jan. 11, 2018; Grand Forks)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Idaho State: 12-1 
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Evans: 11-0
Idaho State Head Coach Bill Evans vs. UND: 0-11
Idaho State Head Coach Bill Evans vs. Jones: 0-11

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• UND went 6-3 on the road in Big Sky play a year ago, but are still searching for that elusive league-road win this season. The Fighting Hawks dropped to 0-6 in that category following Thursday’s 84-76 loss at Weber State.
• The positive is the Fighting Hawks have yet to drop a Big Sky road game to Idaho State in four previous tries and are 4-1 all-time in Pocatello.
• Idaho State is 7-4 in Pocatello this season, but have lost two in a row on its home court, including an 85-82 loss to Northern Colorado on Thursday. 
• UND will also look to extend an 11-game winning streak against the Bengals, which includes a 10-0 mark in Big Sky regular-season contests. The two teams split a home-and-home series during the 2011-12 season before UND became a Big Sky member the next season.
• The Bengals’ 76-63 victory in Pocatello that season is their lone victory in the all-time series that UND leads 12-1.
• Senior Dale Jones is averaging a team-best 16.4 ppg over UND’s last five games and is shooting 48.3 percent from 3-point range during that stretch (15-for-31). Jones went 3-for-5 from deep in UND’s home win over the Bengals.

UND returns home for its longest homestand of the season as the Fighting Hawks will play three straight at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. A matchup with Northern Arizona on Thursday begins that stretch. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. CT.

UND’s 11-game winning streak over Idaho State is the program’s longest such streak over one opponent at the Division I level. The all-time best winning streak in program history was a 19-game one held against South Dakota State from 1930-39. 

The Fighting Hawks went 11-2 at The Betty last season and own a 123-58 record in the building that opened prior to the 2004-05 season. UND won its eighth-consecutive home opener earlier this season and sits at 5-5 at home this season after splitting with Montana State and Montana. The Fighting Hawks were 8-1 in Big Sky play on their home court a year ago.

The North Dakota men’s basketball program holds a 1570-1051 (.602) all-time record since Dr. George Sweetland led the first team onto the court in 1904-05. UND is 948-284 (.769) all-time when it comes to defending its home court. 
The 2017-18 season is the 10th at the Division I level for the program (2008-09) and the Fighting Hawks are 148-163 in those contests. As a Big Sky member, the Fighting Hawks own a 55-47 record in its first five-plus seasons of league play, including its best showing of 14-4 during its title run last season.This is the sixth and final season for the Fighting Hawks,  who will join the Summit League in 2018-19. 

The Fighting Hawks were squared up with Weber State at 69-69 with under three minutes to play, but the Wildcats scored used an 8-2 run to create enough separation and hold on for an 84-76 victory to earn a series split with UND. Senior Dale Jones scored a team-high 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, which included a 5-for-6 effort from beyond the arc. It was third 20-plus point game of the season for the Iowa transfer. 

Iowa grad transfer Dale Jones missed the Idaho contest (Dec. 29) after starting all 11 non-conference games, but returned to the starting lineup in an emphatic way in his Big Sky debut vs. Eastern Washington (Dec. 31). Jones scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds to register the first double-double of his career. He’s been hot of late, notching a career-high 24 points at Idaho (Jan. 27), which included a 4-for-9 effort from beyond the arc. The 6-foot-8 forward has proven his worth early on this season by averaging 11.5 ppg and 6.7 rpg (seventh in the Big Sky). In Big Sky play, Jones has his average up to 12.6 ppg and is shooting 41.9 percent from 3-point range, which tops the team.

After three seasons at the junior-college level, injuries limited him to just 11 games for the Hawkeyes from 2015-17. By missing a majority of those two seasons, he was granted a sixth year of elibility by the NCAA.

Junior Conner Avants was a rebound shy of registering his first career double-double on four different occasions throughout his career before finally notching one in the 94-91 overtime loss to Northern Colorado (Jan. 20). Those around the Big Sky are probably surprised it took Avants 83 career games to record one, but he got that monkey off his back with a 20-point, 11-rebound effort against the Bears. The 11 boards were a new career-high for the Edmond, Okla., native, who also had a career-high four steals against the Bears.

He picked up his second double-double of the season in the home loss to Montana (Feb. 3) and in the past seven games, Avants is 37-for-59 from the floor (62.7 percent) and is averaging 13.4 ppg and 5.0 rpg.#BAREFOOT COACHIn each of the past six seasons, head coach Brian Jones and his staff has coached a game in their barefeet to help raise awareness for the Samaritan’s Feet cause. This year’s game took place on Feb. 3 when Montana visited for a Big Sky showdown. 

For the first time since helping out the organization, the Fighting Hawks wore custom-made jerseys trimmed in orange, which is the primary color utilized by Samaritan’s Feet. Those jerseys are going to be available for purchase by fans at a later date with proceeds going to assist Samaritan’s Feet.

The nonprofit group serves and inspires hope in children by providing shoes to impoverished children throughout the world. In 2016, Jones was named the organization’s Barefoot Coach of the Year and was recognized at a special breakfast during Final Four Weekend in Houston. 

The Fighting Hawks have also participated in local shoe drives each of the past six years where thousands of shoes have been distributed to members of the Grand Forks community. 

This year’s event was hosted at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center for the first time. The men’s basketball program was joined by several fellow UND student-athletes along with several local high school students. The volunteers passed out shoes to those in need and also washed the feet of the children receiving the shoes. For more information and to find out ways to donate to Samaritan’s Feet, visit

Slow starts have been one of the bigger issues for the Fighting Hawks in their eight Big Sky losses so far this season. In those nine league setbacks, opponents are outscoring UND 384-274 in the first half (42.7 to 30.4) and have held the halftime lead. The Fighting Hawks have produced much better in the second halves of those contests, averaging 39.0 ppg after the break.

During UND’s three Big Sky victories, the Fighting Hawks are outscoring opponents 115-89 (38.3 to 29.7) and have held a halftime lead in each of those contests. 

For just the third time in the past two seasons, UND dropped a contest when it scored at least 80 points after falling 94-91 in overtime Saturday at Northern Colorado. the Fighting Hawks  own a 22-3 record in those contests and their first losses were against ranked opponents (100-82 vs. Arizona; NCAA Tournament and 89-83 OT loss at Gonzaga). So far this season, the Fighting Hawks are 6-2 when scoring 80-plus points with both of those losses coming in OT.

Junior Geno Crandall scored 30 points in the overtime loss at Northern Colordao (Jan. 20), which was his best output of the Big Sky slate so far and that total also moved him into UND’s top 30 on all-time scoring charts. He now sits in 21st place with 1,189 career points. Crandall needs just two points to move into the top 20 on the list.

UND’s last seven contests in the series with Northern Colorado have either gone into overtime or been decided by one point in regulation. That streak appeared to be in jeopardy this past Saturday with the Bears holding a double-digit lead midway through the second half, but the Fighting Hawks rallied to force the third-straight overtime game in the series. After winning both extra-session games last season with the Bears, UNC spoiled UND’s attempt at a third-straight series win when Andre Spight dranined a half-court shot at the buzzer to lift the home team to a 94-91 victory. Spight finished with a career-high 34 points and had nine of those in overtime. The Bears hold a 4-3 edge in those tight-knit games.

Junior Cortez Seales paced UND with 14 points in the 81-58 victory over Idaho State (Jan. 13). He was one of seven Fighting Hawks with at least nine points in what was the 11th-straight win over the Bengals for UND. The 23-point victory was also the team’s largest of the season over a Division I opponent.

For the first time in his collegiate career, reserve guard Billy Brown buried a trio of 3-pointers in the same game, providing a season-high nine points off the bench in UND’s 81-58 win over Idaho State (Jan. 11). In 11 Big Sky games, Brown is now 10-for-26 (38.5 percent) from distance after going 4-for-19 (21.1) from beyond the arc in non-conference play. Brown also added career-highs in assists (4) and steals (3) in 28 minutes of action vs. the Bengals. Brown’s 22.8 mpg in league action are the most of any reserve on the roster and he’s avearging 4.6 ppg in league play after averaging 1.9 ppg in 10 non-conference games.

• Head coach Bill Evans has the Bengals off to a 10-12 start overall and 5-6 tally in Big Sky play.• When these two teams first met this season, ISU had won eight or nine and started league play at 3-0. The Bengals 81-58 loss to UND was their first in Big Sky play and ISU is just 2-6 since then.
• Sophomore transfer Jared Stutzman is the team’s top scorer at 14.7 ppg and has upped that to 16.1 ppg. UND limited the Utah Valley transfer to seven points in the first meeting.
• Stutzman is one of the top 3-point threats in the league, knocking down 48.8 percent of his attempts (39-for-80). He’s shooting 46.9 percent from distance in league play (23-for-49).
• Junior Brandon Boyd is the top scoring reserve in the Big Sky, averaging 13.0 ppg and 15.4 ppg in league play. He scored 26 off the bench to lead all scorers in ISU’s 85-82 loss to Northern Colorado on Thursday.
• Senior Geno Luzcando is a three-year starter and the Chileanis averaging 10.0 ppg and leads the Big Sky in steals, averaging 2.1 per game.
• Junior center Novak Topalovic, one of the few 7-footers in the Big Sky, is averaging 10.6 ppg and 11.6 ppg in Big Sky play. He led the Bengals with 12 points in the first meeting with UND. He has swatted away a team-high 23 shots in 22 games this year.
• ISU is one of the worsts in the Big Sky when it comes to committing turnovers, averaging 14.6 per game.

-- UND --

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