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Junior Aaron Anderson scored 20 points in an overtime victory over Montana last season at The Betty.
Game Notes: Four-game homestand starts with Griz
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Updated: Monday 01/10/2013 10:51:57 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - After playing three of its first four Big Sky games on the road, UND returns to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center for the start of a four-game league homestand on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. That stretch begins with defending champion Montana - a team UND defeated 88-81 in overtime last season in Grand Forks.

UND VS. MONTANA SERIES
All-time
: Montana leads 7-5
In Grand Forks
: UND leads 4-1
Division I: Montana leads 2-1
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Montana: 1-2
Montana Head Coach Wayne Tinkle vs. UND: 2-1

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio
: 1440 AM (Grand Forks), 970 AM (Fargo) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
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...
• UND is coming off a weekend split in Big Sky play where the team secured its first Big Sky win and first road win of the season last Thursday at Idaho State. The visitors jumped out to a 31-9 lead and went on to post a 66-53 victory.
• Junior Aaron Anderson led all scorers with 19 points in the contest, while classmates Troy Huff and Josh Schuler each added double-figure scoring efforts. Huff had a season-high 15 points, while Schuler scored all 14 of his points in the second half.
• Anderson continued his strong play on Saturday at Weber State, but the Wildcats dominated from the start en route to a 95-63 victory. Anderson scored a career-high 23 points in the contest, going 6-for-8 from the field and 10-for-10 from the free throw line.
• Huff had his second straight 15-point outing off the bench, while Jamal Webb reached double figures for the fourth time this season with 10 points.
• With Anderson’s perfect effort and Huff’s 9-for-11 clip from the stripe, UND made more than 80 percent (83.9 percent) of its free throws in a game for the sixth time this season.
• The Griz are off to a 4-0 start in league play this season, but three of those victories have been decided by single digits. Montana and Weber State are the only two remaining unbeatens in Big Sky play after Sacramento State knocked Southern Utah from that perch on Monday.
• Montana was picked to repeat as Big Sky champions by the league’s coaches, while Weber State was pegged to finish second.
• The Griz and UND have one common opponent this season and both have felt the sting of suffering a one-point loss to that foe - South Dakota State. A 3-pointer at the buzzer catapulted the Jacks to the home win over UND on Nov. 28. The Griz fell victim on their homecourt as visiting SDSU used double-overtime to edge UM 68-67 on Dec. 15.
• Huff has not missed a beat since returning from an eight-game absence against Northern Colorado on Dec. 21. In his four games back, Huff is averaging 14.5 ppg and 7.5 rpg off the bench.
• With seven points against Weber State, junior Josh Schuler became the fourth member of his class to surpass 600-career points (601) and with 10 points in the same contest, classmate Jamal Webb moved past the 700-point plateau (706).
• Anderson is quickly closing in on the 800-point plateau for his career (787) after surpassing the 700-point plateau vs. Presentation College. He is one of five juniors on the team that have already scored at least 500 points in their careers. Huff leads that quintet with 942 career points. Brandon Brekke (510) rounds out the high-scoring quintet.
• Senior Mitch Wilmer and junior Alonzo Traylor both posted their first career double-doubles in the team’s Big Sky debut at Southern Utah, 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 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. 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.
• 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 19. Wilmer has also equaled his single-game high four different times already this season with a quartet of three-block games to his credit.
• 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. He also added five points as the UND bench outscored ISU’s 23-6.
• 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.
• 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.

LAST TIME OUT
North Dakota returns home for a four-game Big Sky  homestand following a weekend road split where the Green and White trumped Idaho State, 66-53, on Thursday before falling to Weber State, 95-63, on Saturday.

A fast start propelled UND to its first Big Sky win in program history along with its first road win of the season at Idaho State. The visitors jumped on the Bengals early to the tune of a 31-9 advantage. But ISU would regroup in the closing five minutes of the first half to make it a 31-20 deficit at halftime. UND would hold off a second-half rally by making 11-of-12 from the free-throw line down the stretch. Junior Aaron Anderson led all scorers with 19 points and classmates Troy Huff (15) and Josh Schuler (14) joined him in double figures.

It was quite the opposite in Ogden on Saturday at the “Purple Palace” as Weber State jumped out on UND with a big first-half run. Anderson had his team ahead briefly at 7-5 by making his first three field goals, but the Wildcats made 12 of their first 15 field goal attempts to build an insurmountable lead at 35-14. Anderson finished with a career-high 23 points, but his troops only shot 16 percent from the field in the opening half, while Weber State shot 64 percent to build a 46-21 lead.

ANDERSON PLAYING BIG
Junior Aaron Anderson stands alone a top the Big Sky scoring charts in league play. Through four games, the Brooklyn Park., Minn., native is averaging 19.0 ppg in those contests. He is coming off a career-high 23-point outing at Weber State and 19-point affair at Idaho State.  He has led the team in scoring in eight of 12 games this season, including all four Big Sky contests.

Anderson is also doing a lot of his damage from the free-throw line where he is 32-of-35 on the season in Big Sky play. This past weekend, Anderson went a perfect 18-for-18 in the games at Idaho State (8-for-8) and Weber State (10-for-10). Anderson’s 32 makes are the most by a Big Sky player in league play and his 60 makes in all games traily only Northern Arizona’s DeWayne Russell.

HUFF BACK IN ACTION
Junior Troy Huff has returned to action for UND’s past four 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. The junior has reached double figures in all four games, including scoring 15 points in back-to-back contests this past weekend. Huff is averaging 14.0 ppg in all games and has upped that to 14.7 ppg in Big Sky play. He is the top scoring reserve in the league at this point of the season.

WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 26 already this season.  He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.2 spg. Webb still has a ways to go to catch UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 176 from 1989-93. He has nine in four Big Sky games to give him 135 for his career.

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.

BOARD MEETING
During the team’s first back-to-back wins of the season, UND used a dominant effort on the glass to help register those victories. Against Bowling Green, junior Troy Huff had a season-high 12 rebounds, which is the most by a UND player in a game this season, to lead a 42-25 advantage over the Falcons. In the 66-53 victory over Idaho State, senior Jordan Allard equaled his career-high with 10 boards to pace a 43-22 advantage on the backboards. Prior to their +38 run in the last two games, UND was -18 in the first 10 games of the season. The team is 4-1 when owning a rebounding advantage.
 
WILMER CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last 10 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 8.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg and 1.5 bgp during that stretch. He has scored 89 points this season, which are six 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. Wilmer has scored 79 points through 11 games this season (7.2 ppg). He entered the season having scored just 83 points in 55 career games (0.7 ppg).

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.

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 12 games, UND is 178-for-232 from the stripe (76.7 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 four Big Sky games, UND is shooting 87-110 from the stripe (79.1 percent - second 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 College Basketball Invitational.

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 13 games this season.

The starting lineup of Webb (PG), Anderson (SG), Schuler (SF), Doug Archer (PF) and Mitch Wilmer (C) has started the last six games and is the fifth different one Jones has deployed this season.

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.

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 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 66.9 percent of the team’s scoring through 13 games.

SOME FAMILIARITY
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.

OPPONENT PREVIEW: MONTANA
• Under head coach Wayne Tinkle, Montana won the 2010 and 2012 Big Sky Tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The seventh-year head coach has led the Griz to three consecutive 20-win seasons, including a 25-7 mark last season.
• One of those losses occurred in Grand Forks, however, as Tinkle and his squad return to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center looking for revenge after suffering an 88-81 overtime loss to UND.
• Montana erased an 11-point halftime deficit and held a one-point lead with two seconds remaining before Aaron Anderson hit one-of-two free throws to send the game into overtime.
• Anderson finished with a career-high 20 points and Brandon Brekke added 15 points and 11 rebounds for what his first of five double-doubles last season.
• The meeting was the third since UND made the move to the Division I, but first in Grand Forks since the 1963-64 season.
• The Griz had won both previous Division I clashes in Missoula during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons.
• Montana won the Big Sky regular season a year ago - its first outright title since 1991-92, posting a 15-1 record in league play.
• Reigning Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year Will Cherry returned to action on Dec. 15 (vs. South Dakota State) after missing his team’s first seven games of the season. The two-time All-Big Sky first teamer is averaging 9.6 ppg and just under five assists since his return.
• Cherry averaged 15.8 ppg a season ago (fourth in the Big Sky) and needs 53 steals to become the Big Sky’s all-time leader in that category. Cherry had a game-high 28 points in last year’s meeting with UND.
• Forward Mathias Ward leads the team in scoring at 14.2 ppg (t-6th in Big Sky), while fellow forward Kareem Jamar is close behind at 13.5 ppg (8th in Big Sky). Those are the only two Griz to start all 12 games this season. Seven other UM players have at least two starts to their credit.
• Jamar had 24 for the Griz in the overtime loss a year ago. Jamar and Cherry combined for 52 of their team’s 81 points.
• Mike Weisner has been a sharp-shooter off the bench for the Griz, connecting on 17-of-30 3-point attempts (56.7 percent) - a clip that leads all Big Sky players.

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