GRAND FORKS, N.D. - UND stays on the road to face co-Big Sky leader Weber State on Saturday in what will be the first meeting between the two teams on the hardwood. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at the Dee Events Center.
UND VS. WEBER STATE SERIES
All-time: First Meeting
In Ogden: First Meeting
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Weber State: First Meeting
Weber State Head Coach Randy Rahe vs. UND: First Meeting
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.BigSkyTV.org (free)
Live Stats: www.WeberStateSports.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
- The Wildcats are one of three unbeaten teams early on in Big Sky play having won three straight to open the campaign. Montana (3-0) and Southern Utah (2-0) are the other two unbeatens going into Saturday's action.
- UND takes the momentum from its first back-to-back wins of the season into Ogden.
- The Green and White ended 2012 with a 56-53 victory over Bowling Green, then opened the New Year with a 66-53 victory over Idaho State on Thursday.
- The win over the Bengals was also the first Big Sky win in program history for one of the league's two newest members. It was also the first road win for UND, who had dropped its first five away from the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
- Aaron Anderson led a trio of UND juniors in double figures with a season-high 19 points against Idaho State. It was the third straight time Anderson led the Green and White in scoring against the Bengals.
- Anderson is tied with Northern Arizona's DeWayne Russell for the scoring lead in Big Sky play with both averaging 17.7 ppg. Anderson has led UND in scoring in each of the team's three league games.
- Classmates Troy Huff and Josh Schuler joined Anderson in double figures with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Huff, who came off the bench for the third-straight time since returning from a jaw injury, has reached double figures in each of the four games he has played this season. His 15 points were a season-high.
- Schuler, who went scoreless against Bowling Green and in the first half against Idaho State, scored all 14 points of his points in the second half.
- Anderson and Schuler combined to go 11-for-12 in the final 1:17 of the contest to seal the win. The duo ranks second and third in Big Sky play, respectively, in free throw percentage. Schuler is second at 92.9 percent (13-for-14). Anderson is third at 88.0 percent (22-for-25), including an 8-for-8 effort against Idaho State.
- Senior Mitch Wilmer is not far behind the duo, ranking seventh at 81.8 percent (18-for-22). He is averaging 12.7 ppg and 7.3 rpg as well in Big Sky play.
- Huff has not missed a beat since returning from an eight-game absence against Northern Colorado on Dec. 21. In his three games back, Huff is averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg off the bench.
- Against Bowling Green, Huff registered his fifth career double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds for his efforts became the first UND player to be named Big Sky Player of the Week.
- Huff's 14 points also put him over the 900-point plateau for his career. He was the team's leading scorer each of the past two seasons, is averaging 13.8 ppg in four games so far.
- It was the second straight 14-point effort for Huff, who had that many in the 75-66 loss to Northern Colorado. The double-digit game was also the 50th of his career.
- Wilmer has equaled or established his career-high in scoring in four contests this season. He had one double-figure scoring game entering the campaign, but has scored 10 or more in four of his last six games.
- 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 will be 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.
- 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 (764). Huff leads that quintet with 927 career points. Jamal Webb is next with 696, while Josh Schuler (594) and Brandon Brekke (510) are also more than 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 18. 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 1.6 bpg average is fifth 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.
- 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, but only logged five minutes of playing time. He did pull down four rebounds in his limited action.
- 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.
LAST TIME OUT
North Dakota picked up its first Big Sky victory as a league member, defeating Idaho State 66-53 on the road at Holt Arena on Thursday night. Aaron Anderson led a trio of juniors in double figures with a game and season-high 19 points as UND (4-8, 1-2 BSC) won back-to-back games for the first time this season.
Anderson was joined in double figures by classmates Troy Huff and Josh Schuler, who had 15 and 14 points, respectively. Huff's 15 points were a season-high and came off the bench as he continues to work his way back from a jaw injury.
Schuler scored all 14 of his points in the second half that saw what was a 22-point first half lead for the visitors dwindle all the way down to seven before a strong showing at the foul line iced the game for UND.
UND hit a quartet of 3-pointers early on to build a 12-4 advantage and then would use a 17-2 run over to take a commanding 31-9 lead.
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. Since his return (now three games), Huff is averaging 14.3 ppg and 7.3 rpg off the bench. UND is also 2-1 in those contests, match its win total from a 2-7 start to the campaign.
During the team's first back-to-back wins of the season, UND has 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 nine 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 8.7 ppg, 5.2 rpg and 1.6 bgp during that stretch. He has scored 87 points this season, which are four 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).
ANDERSON PLAYING BIG
Through three Big Sky games, junior Aaron Anderson is averaging 17.7 ppg for UND, which is tied for the highest output among league players. He has led the team in scoring in eight of 12 games this season and leads the team with a 84.7 percent clip from the foul line.
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.
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, bringing his career total to 135. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.4 spg overall and 3.0 spg in league action. He still has a ways to go to catch UND's career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 176 from 1989-93, but he is on pace to break the mark during his senior season. Webb has registered three steals in each of the team's three Big Sky 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 10 games, UND is 131-for-172 from the stripe (76.1 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 three Big Sky games, UND is shooting 61-79 from the stripe (77.2 percent - second among Big Sky schools).
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 10 games this season.
The starting lineup of Webb (PG), Anderson (SG), Schuler (SF), Doug Archer (PF) and Mitch Wilmer (C) has started the last five 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.
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 65.2 percent of the team's scoring through 11 games.
Sophomore Lenny Antwi scored 64 points during his true freshman season in 28 games a year ago. So far this season, the back-up guard has already scored 69 points in 12 games and is averaging 5.8 points in 21.3 minutes of action per game. Antwi is shooting 35.2 percent from 3-point range, which is among the top efforts on the team.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: WEBER STATE
- Head coach Randy Rahe is entering his seventh season leading the Weber State program. He has led the Wildcats to a trio of Big Sky Championships and five postseason tournament berths.
- Rahe has also coached four Big Sky MVPs, including Damien Lillard, who won the award the past two seasons and was the No. 6 pick in this past year's NBA Draft by the Portland Trailblazers.
- Lillard became the first Big Sky Player to ever earn All-America honors after averaging 24.5 ppg (second best total in NCAA Division I last season).
- The Wildcats went 16-0 last season at the Dee Events Center, posting the best home record in school history.
- BYU snapped Weber's 20-game homecourt winning streak earlier this season with a 78-68 victory over the Wildcats on Dec. 15. With their 79-54 victory over Northern Colorado on Thursday, WSU now owns a 10-game Big Sky homecourt winning streak.
- Weber State defeated UND's former Great West foe Utah Valley 89-56 on Dec. 5. UND and the Wolverines split six meetings over the previous three seasons, but will not meet this season.
- Weber State is one of three unbeaten Big Sky teams remaining through the early stages of the campaign. The Wildcats are joined by Montana (3-0) and newcomer Southern Utah (2-0) in that category.
- The game between Weber State and North Dakota will be the 500th all-time at the Dee Events Center.
- Senior Scott Bamforth scored a season-high 22 points in the victory over Northern Colorado, connecting on 5-of-7 3-point attempts. Bamforth leads the team in scoring in Big Sky games at 14.3 ppg.
- Bamforth his second overall at 12.3 ppg - just behind Davion Berry at 12.5 ppg. Berry is only averaging 7.3 ppg in his three Big Sky tilts.
- The Wildcats are the top scoring team in the Big Sky, averaging 77.5 ppg and the top defensive team, yielding only 59.3 ppg.