GRAND FORKS, N.D. - UND will look to split the season series with Sacramento State and also move a game ahead of the Hornets in the Big Sky standings when the two teams clash on Valentine’s Day at The Betty. Tipoff is set for Thursday at 7:05 p.m.
UND VS. SACRAMENTO STATE SERIES
All-time: Sac State leads 2-1
In Grand Forks: UND leads 1-0
Division I: Sac State leads 2-1
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Sac State: 1-2
Sac State Head Coach Brian Katz vs. UND: 2-1
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Television: MidCo Sports Network (Ch. 27/622 HD) and Fox College Sports Pacific (DirecTV Ch. 626)
Radio: 1440 AM (Grand Forks) and 970 AM (Fargo) or iHeart Radio App
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...
• This will be the 29th time UND has played on Valentine’s Day. The Green and White are 15-13 in those contests, but will look to snap a four-game skid in games played on Feb. 14.
• After opening the season 1-4 in Big Sky play, UND has won six of its last nine league games to move into a three-way tie for fourth. Montana State, who has dropped two straight and begins a four-game road trip this week is the third team tied with UND and Sac State.
• The Hornets took advantage of a 15-minute field goal drought by UND in the first meeting to defeat the visitors 67-58 (Jan. 24) at The Nest. The Green and White led by as many as 12 points early in the contest, but the elongated dry spell helped the home team erase the double-digit deficit and pick up its second straight win over UND in Sacramento.
• Sac State was clutch at free-throw line down the stretch to seal the win after UND’s late comeback attempt fell short. Junior Troy Huff led all scorers with 24 points and classmate Aaron Anderson added 14 to pace the visitors.
• The back-to-back home wins for Sac State over UND give the Hornets a slight 2-1 edge in a series that started in Grand Forks two seasons ago. UND won that contest during the 2010-11 season 64-60 as Anderson, Jamal Webb and Patrick Mitchell each had 11 points.
• After erasing double-digit, second-half deficits in their previous two Big Sky road contests, the Green and White could not duplicate that feat in Missoula on Saturday. Montana jumped out early on UND and never relented as the Griz set Big Sky records for consecutive regular season wins (25) and consecutive regular season home wins (24).
• The Griz built a 40-21 lead at halftime and never let UND get closer than 17 after the break. Huff led all scorers with 23 points, while Webb added 14 points for the visitors.
• UND turned it over a season-high 22 times in the contest with 15 of those occuring in the first half. UM converted those miscues into 22 points.
• UND did earn a split in the Treasure State thanks to an 82-73 victory over Montana State on Thursday. The Bobcats built a 14-point lead just over six minutes into the second half, but UND would storm back, converting five and-ones in the final eight minutes of play to improve to 3-4 on the road in Big Sky play.
• Webb had the most memorable of those and-ones when he threw down a one-handed dunk and was fouled after driving the lane. The dunk was the first of Webb’s career and the 3-point play gave his team a 65-59 advantage.
• Huff once again led all scorers with 25 points, while redshirt freshman Shane Benton had the best game of his young career, establishing career highs in points (13), rebounds (5) and steals (3).
• Huff added four steals as UND registered a season-high 15 thefts in Big Sky play. Webb also had three steals, marking the 13th time this season and 28th time in his career he has had three or more steals in a game.
• Webb currently sits in second on UND’s all-time charts with 162, while Huff now sits in fourth with 125. Scott Guldseth holds the record at 178 (1990-93).
• With his three steals at Montana, Webb now has 53 on the season (2.6 spg is best in Big Sky, 16th in NCAA), which is tied for the ninth most in a single season at UND. His name is already on the Top 10 list after tallying 57 a season ago - which is tied for fifth most. And, with those 53 steals, he bumped himself and Rico Burkett (1990-91) from the list. Both players were tied for the 10th most with 52.
• Burkett holds the single-season record of 75 set during the 1989-90 season.
• The win over Montana State was the second straight road game that UND overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to post a victory (Northern Arizona; down by 11 at halftime). It was the third Big Sky road win for the club - only Montana (6-0) and Weber State (6-2) have more.
• Huff’s 23 points in the loss at Montana moved him into 20th on UND’s all-time scoring charts with 1,155 points. It was the eighth 20-plus point scoring game for Huff in Big Sky play this season.
• Benton has scored 28 of his 30 total points in Big Sky play during the last three road games. His 21 points during the Montana Swing were just two less than he scored in his first 18 games this seaseon (23).
• Webb had averaged 5.0 apg during the swing through Montana and now has 328 for his career, leaving him two shy of cracking UND’s Top 5 for that category.
• He also averaged 13.0 ppg and surpassed the 800-point plateau for his career. Webb’s career total is now at 823.
• After scoring nine points in only six minutes of action (foul trouble) at Montana State on Thursday, junior Brandon Brekke returned to the starting lineup for the next game at Montana and logged 25 minutes (5 pts/7 rebs).
• Brekke equaled his season-high with seven rebounds against the Griz and is averaging 6.3 ppg and 4.0 rpg in 15 mpg since his return (four games). Brekke missed 11 games total after suffering a concussion in the loss to North Dakota State (Dec. 9). He did play five minutes in a game vs. Bowling Green (Dec. 29) before symptoms returned.
• Junior Josh Schuler, who had started 20 straight games since coming off the bench in the season opener at K-State, missed both contests in Montana with back spasms. His status is day-to-day. Schuler had played in all 87 games of his UND career up to the Montana State game on Feb. 7 .
• With the win over Idaho State on Feb. 2, head coach Brian Jones surpassed former NBA coaching legend Bill Fitch for fourth place on the all-time career wins list at UND with 95. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67. Jones now has 96 career wins.
MORE IN THE PAINT
• UND improved to 7-4 at home with its home win over Idaho State on Feb. 2. 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 prior to the Weber State (Jan. 31) contest. He has missed four straight games and there is no timetable for his return.
• The Big Sky is the third conference that UND has been affiliated with since the program began 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 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.
• The Big Sky Tournament will be held at the home venue of the No. 1 seed and regular-season champion.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: SACRAMENTO STATE
• Sacramento State shares fourth place in the Big Sky standings with UND and Montana State at 7-7. The Hornets could be even higher in the standings if not for a pair of one-point league losses early on.
• Sac State is 1-5 on the road in Big Sky games and 3-7 overall away from The Nest. The Hornets did defeat Utah of Pac-12 74-71 on the road (Nov. 16).
• Sac State is led by fifth-year head coach Brian Katz, who has his team off to a 12-10 start overall. The 12 wins are the most for the Hornets since the 2005-06 season and the seven Big Sky wins are the most since 2004-05.
• Sophomore Mikh McKinney (13.8 ppg/14.4 ppg) is the Hornets’ top scorer in both overall (13.8 ppg) and league game (14.4 ppg). He is a transfer from Ohlone Junior College.
• McKinney, who is one of four Sac State players averaging in double figures in both overall and Big Sky games, scored a season-high 30 points in the Hornets’ 77-71 win over Portland State last Saturday.
• Classmate Dylan Garrity (12.2 ppg/11.0 ppg) is one of the top assist men in the conference. He averages a league-best 5.2 helpers in overall games and ranks second in Big Sky games at 4.9 apg.
• Garrity missed the first meeting between these teams earlier this season. He had nine points and seven assists against UND as a freshman in a home win over the Green and White last season.
• Senior John Dickson (13.3 ppg/11.5 ppg) posted a double-double in the first meeting this season with UND as the Hornets held a 39-22 advantage on the glass. He finished with 12 boards and 11 points.
• Dickson is averaging 10.0 ppg in three career games vs. UND.
• Big man Konner Veteto (10.4 ppg/10.4 ppg) rounds out the quartet of double-digit scorer for the Hornets.
• Senior Joe Eberhard led Sac State in scoring with 15 in a 67-58 win over UND on Jan. 24. He also scored 13 points in their home win last season over UND.
LAST TIME OUT
Montana 78, North Dakota 58, (Feb. 9) • Missoula, Mont.
MISSOULA, Mont. - Montana raced out to a 19-point halftime lead and went on to post a 78-58 victory over North Dakota to secure a pair of Big Sky records on Saturday at Dahlberg Arena. The victory was the 25th straight in Big Sky regular season play and the 24th straight in league home games for the Grizzlies (18-4, 14-0 BSC).
The difference in this contest was the opening 20 minutes as Montana forced UND (10-13, 7-7 BSC) into 15 turnovers, turning those into 22 points. Those extra possessions staked the home team to a 40-21 lead at the break.
Senior Will Cherry had 13 points and Eric Hutchinson surpassed his career-high with nine points in the opening stanza to pace Montana.
Junior Troy Huff finished with a game-high 23 points and now has eight 20-plus scoring games in Big Sky play this season. Classmate Jamal Webb added 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
SNAP SHOT: MONTANA STATE
North Dakota 82, Montana State 73 (Feb. 7) • Bozeman, Mont.
BOZEMAN, Mont. - For the second straight Big Sky road game, North Dakota overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to post a win this time knocking off Montana State 82-73 at Worthington Arena on Thursday night.
Junior Troy Huff scored a game-high 25 points and freshman Shane Benton added a career-high 13 points to spark UND (10-12, 7-6 BSC) to a season sweep of the Bobcats (10-11, 7-6 BSC). Those two also combined for seven steals as UND had a season-high 15 of those in league play to ignite the comeback.
Montana State raced out of the gates in the second half and extended what was a 34-31 lead at halftime to as many as 14 points just over six minutes into the stanza.
However, just like they did on Jan. 26 at Northern Arizona, UND found a way to erase a large deficit and left a visiting venue with a victory, improving to 3-3 on the road in league action.
It was the first visit to Bozeman for UND since the 1964-65 season and it was the first Big Sky loss for Montana State on its home court this season.
After facing its largest deficit of the game at 55-41, UND went on a 19-4 to seize control of the contest.
HUFF'S RISING IN 1,000-POINT CLUB, ANDERSON IS CLOSING IN
A 3-pointer from the top of the key vs. Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 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 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 21st now. Huff surpassed Mitchell with his 23-point outing at Montana and has moved up 12 spots to 20th in the last six games.
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 (921 career points) and if his season average holds up (currently 13.4 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 (19.8 ppg) leads the Big Sky in league scoring and classmate Aaron Anderson (15.0 ppg) is sixth. Only Southern Utah, with Jackson Stevenett (19.1 ppg) and Damon Heuir (18.5 ppg) have two players in the top six along with UND. Huff has reached double figures in 13 of 14 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.
UND DRAWS OMAHA FOR BRACKETBUSTERS GAME
The North Dakota men’s basketball team added one more former North Central Conference foe to its 2012-13 schedule on Monday as ESPN officials announced that Omaha will play host to the Green and White during their annual Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters weekend. The game will take place Saturday, Feb. 23 at Omaha’s Ralston Arena. Tipoff time is set for 1 p.m.
This will be the final season of an 11-year run for the event that pits 122 NCAA Tournament hopefuls from 15 different mid-major conferences against each other. Omaha is in its second season of transition to the NCAA Division I level and first in the Summit League.
The Mavericks are currently 8-17 overall and 5-7 in the Summit League, which puts them fifth in the standings of the nine-team conference. UND is currently 9-12 overall and 6-6 in its first season in the Big Sky. The .500 league mark puts UND in fifth alone in the 11-team conference.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 53 already this season. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.6 spg. Webb is closing fast on UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 36 in 14 Big Sky games to give him 162 for his career. Webb also joined a new career top 10 recently and has moved into Top 10 on the all-time assist chart. He is currently sixth with 322.
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 sixth 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 20 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 5.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg and 1.3 bgp for the season. He has scored 129 points this season, which are 46 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.
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.
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 72.9 (1,117 of 1,533) percent of the team’s scoring through 23 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.
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 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.