GRAND FORKS, N.D. - A former conference foe will be the first Big Sky home opponent for North Dakota as Northern Colorado travels to Grand Forks for a 7:05 p.m. tipoff on Friday.
UND VS. NORTHERN COLORADO SERIES
All-time: UND leads 40-19
Division I: NC leads 3-0
In Grand Forks: UND leads 24-5
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Northern Colorado: 0-3
Northern Colorado Head Coach B.J. Hill vs. UND: 1-0
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
Television: MidCo Sports Network (Ch. 23/622 HD) and Fox College Sports Atlantic (DirecTV 623
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...
• Northern Colorado and North Dakota were North Central Conference rivals from 1979-2003 before the Bears made the move to the Division I level.
• With UND’s inclusion into the Big Sky Conference, the two teams will now meet twice a season. However, this will not be the first meeting between the two schools as Division I foes. The teams have played three times since UND began its transition in 2008-09.
• The Bears, who made the same transition just five seasons earlier, have won all three of those contests, including the last time the teams met in Grand Forks - a 70-63 victory on Nov. 27, 2009.
• That was just the fifth victory in 29 tries for NC on UND’s home court. UND will play the Bears in Greeley on Feb. 20 where the Green and White are 12-13 all-time.
• NC won the last meeting between the two teams, which was an 87-69 victory for the Bears in Greeley during the 2010-11 season. The 18-point victory was the largest for NC in the series. UND’s largest victory was a 29-point triumph in the 1994 NCC Tournament.
• The teams did not meet last season after playing in three consecutive campaigns.
• The league’s 11 head coaches felt like these two teams will be towards the top of the Big Sky standings at the end of the season, picking NC third and UND fourth in their preseason poll.
• The matchup will be the first Big Sky game for NC this season, while UND is coming off a 79-67 setback in its Big Sky debut at Southern Utah at Monday.
• Junior Aaron Anderson scored a team-high 16 points and Mitch Wilmer and Alonzo Traylor both posted double-doubles, but the Thunderbirds were able to hold off the visitors with a 10-for-12 stretch at the foul line in the closing two minutes.
• Wilmer scored a career-high 15 points and added a career-best 11 rebounds, while Traylor came off the bench to score 13 points and equal Wilmer’s rebounding total.
• The double-doubles were the first of both players’ respective careers and the firsts by a UND player this season.
• Traylor is averaging 15.0 ppg and 8.5 rpg over his last two games off the bench. He had a career-high 17 points on 8-of-8 shooting vs. Presentation.
• Junior Josh Schuler was the fourth UND player to reach double figures in the team’s inaugural Big Sky game, chipping in with 11 points.
• 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 four Big Sky teams UND had never played on the hardwood. The others are Eastern Washington, 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.
• With nine points in the win over Presentation, Anderson surpassed the 700-point plateau for his career. He is one of five juniors on the team that have already scored at least 500 points in their careers (721). Injured classmate Troy Huff leads that quintet with 884 career points. Jamal Webb is next with 675, while Josh Schuler (572) and Brandon Brekke (510) are also halfway to 1,000-point clip for their respective careers.
• Not only has Wilmer added an offensive boost of late, but the 6-foot-11 Warroad, Minn., native has already registered a career-high in blocked shots this season with 16. Wilmer has also equaled his single-game high four different times already this season with a quartet of three-block games to his credit. His 1.8 bpg average is fourth best in the Big Sky.
• 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.
• UND suffered another injury to a starter in the NDSU game 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. His status is day-to-day and he has missed the last two games.
• Huff, who has been out since suffering a broken jaw in the opener at Kansas State has resumed practicing with the team and is working his way back into game shape.
• 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.
• 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.
• The 2011-12 season was the last for the UND men’s basketball team to compete under the Fighting Sioux nickname. The longtime nickname was retired this past summer and all University athletic teams will go by the University of North Dakota, North Dakota or UND until Jan. 1, 2015.
LAST TIME OUT: SOUTHERN UTAH 79, UND 67
Senior Jackson Stevenett scored a game-high 21 points and Southern Utah got a career-high 18 points from Wade Collie to hold off North Dakota 79-67 in the Big Sky debut for both teams on Monday. UND was within a possession coming out of the final media timeout, but a timely 3-pointer from freshman A.J. Hess and a 10-for-12 stretch at the foul line down the stretch doomed the visitors.
Junior Aaron Anderson scored a team-high 16 points and Mitch Wilmer (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Alonzo Traylor (13 points, 11 rebounds) both added double-doubles in the setback. Junior Josh Schuler rounded out a quintet of double-digit scorers for UND by adding 11 points. UND went 28-for-35 from the stripe, but could only manage to hit on 30 percent of its field goals (18-for-60).
STARTING LINE-UP SHUFFLE
Head coach Brian Jones used only five starting lineups a season ago and the combination of Jamal Webb (PG), Aaron Anderson (SG), Troy Huff (SF), Patrick Mitchell (PF) and Brandon Brekke (C) started 27 of those contests. That quintet helped UND post a 17-15 record and win its second straight Great West Conference Tournament title. Unfortunately, due to some key injuries early in this campaign, the seventh-year head coach has already had to shuffle his starting lineup that many times through nine games this season.
The starting lineup of Webb (PG), Anderson (SG), Schuler (SF), Doug Archer (PF) and Wilmer (C) has started the last two games and is the fifth different one Jones has deployed this season.
SPINNING QUITE THE WEBB
Junior Jamal Webb had three steals at Southern Utah, moving him into second place on UND’s all-time charts in that category. He still has some work to do to catch Scott Guldseth (1989-93), who accumulated 176 steals during his UND career. Webb currently has 19 steals so far this season and is averaging 2.4/g, which was tops in the Big Sky (as of Dec. 19).
Senior captain Doug Archer found himself in the starting lineup in last Thursday’s victory over Presentation College. It was not the first start of Archer’s career, but it had been a while since the six-foot-eight forward was on the floor for the opening tip. His previous two career starts came during the first two games of his career as a redshirt freshman during the 2008-09 season. He made the most of his opportunity this time, going 4-for-4 from the field to net eight points, while also adding four rebounds and a career-high four assists. Archer added four points and two rebounds in his start vs. Southern Utah.
WILMER LIKING HIS NEW ROLE
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last six 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 8.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 2.1 bgp during that stretch. He has set his career-high in scoring three times, 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. He added his first career double-double against the Thunderbirds by adding 11 rebounds to his point total.
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 eight games, UND is 110-for-145 from the stripe (75.9 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).
OPPONENT PREVIEW: NORTHERN COLORADO
• Head coach B.J. Hill is in his third season guiding the Northern Colorado men’s basketball program. He was the Big Sky Coach of the Year in 2010-11 after leading the Bears to a 21-11 mark and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
• Hill owns a 32-37 record during that stretch as the Bears enter Big Sky play on the heels of a 90-62 victory over Tabor College.
• The victory snapped a six-game losing streak for NC, who was picked to finish third in the Big Sky according to the preseason coaches’ poll.
• Freshman Tevin Svihovec is the team’s leading scorer and only Bear averaging in double figures this season (11.8 ppg). He has started five of seven games for NC this season. Svihovec had six points off the bench in the win over Tabor.
• Sophomore Tate Unruh is one of three Bears to start all eight games and is one of five averaging at least nine points an outing. He is the team’s top 3-point threat, making 20-of-55 attempts (36 percent). His 20 makes are 11 more than the next closest Bear (Paul Garnica; 9-for-29).
• The Bears enter league play shooting 45.8 percent from the floor, which is the third best clip among Big Sky schools. NC is shooting just 32 percent from beyond the arc as a unit.
• In their two wins, the Bears are averaging 108.5 ppg, while in their six losses, their average scoring output is only 59.7 ppg. NC opened the season with a 127-81 victory over Southwest.
A CLOSER LOOK AT UND VS. NC
• With Big Sky play underway, both UND and Northern Colorado are still in search of their first win over a Division I opponent.
• Both teams have played Northern Iowa this season as the Panthers defeated both squads on their home court. UNI dealt UND a 72-47 setback on Nov. 17, then defeated the Bears 76-59 on Dec. 5. The 17-point loss was the worst of the season for NC.
• UND’s Troy Huff scored a game-high 20 points the last time these two teams met on Feb. 21, 2011. Classmate Jamal Webb added 12 points and four assists in the 87-69 loss.
• UND’s deficit in that game was only five points at halftime, but the Bears outscored the Green and White 50-37 in the second half.