GRAND FORKS, N.D. - North Dakota returns to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center to start a three-game Big Sky homestand on Thursday against Southern Utah. The matchup with the Thunderbirds will be a rare doubleheader with the women’s team. Action is set to start at 6 p.m. with the men’s game scheduled to commence around 30 minutes following the women’s game.
UND VS. SOUTHERN UTAH SERIES
All-time: UND leads 2-1
Last Meeting: UND 69, SUU 52 (3/14/13; Missoula, Mont.)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Southern Utah: 2-1
Southern Utah Head Coach Nick Robinson vs. UND: 1-2
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Television: Midco Sports Network (Ch. 27/623 HD)
and Fox College Sports Central (DirecTV 623)
Radio: 100.3 FM Cat Country (Grand Forks)
Live Stats: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.WatchBigSky.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
• Southern Utah was the final team to clinch a Big Sky Tournament berth last season despite losing to UND on Senior Day to close out the regular season.
• By the time these two teams meet again, UND will have completed all of its Big Sky schedule except for the regular seaosn finale with the Thunderbirds in Cedar City on March 6. That game will also be part of a doubleheader with the women’s team at SUU.
• In three games last season against the T-Birds, UND averaged nearly 30 trips to the free throw line in each of those contests. The Green and White knocked down 60-of-86 freebies, while SUU only went to the line 58 times.
• This is a rematch of what was the Big Sky debut for both teams last season. The T-Birds won that contest in Cedar City, 79-67, but dropped the other two matchups with UND in Grand Forks (68-61) and the Big Sky Tournament Quarterfinals (69-52).
• UND will look to snap a seven-game skid against Division I opponents vs. SUU.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: SOUTHERN UTAH
• The Thunderbirds arrive in Grand Forks coming off a 12-day break and in search of their first win since a season-opening 85-78 win over Arizona Christian.
• Head coach Nick Robinson is in his second season and the former Stanford standout has started 10 different Thunderbirds this season.
• SUU won its inaugural Big Sky game last season at home vs. UND, 79-67 (Dec. 18).
• Newcomer Trey Kennedy is the SUU player to start all nine games this season and he leads the club in scoring at 10.7 ppg. Kennedy is also averaging a team-high 28.1 mpg.
• Sophomore A.J. Hess is the T-birds top 3-point threat, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
• Hess is second on the team in scoring, averaging 8.3 ppg and is he the only returning SUU player that averaged in double figures last season in three games vs. UND (10.3 ppg).
• Hess had a team-high 16 points and eight rebounds in the matchup vs. UND in Grand Forks.
• Center Cal Hanks came off the bench in all three games vs. UND a season ago. He averaged 5.7 ppg, 5.0 rpg and blocked eight shots.
• Hanks had 10 points and eight rebounds in the game vs. UND in Grand Forks.
• Opponents are shooting 48.5 percent from the floor against SUU.
STRENGTH IN NUMBERS
UND wrapped up a 10-game non-conference schedule on Dec. 21 with a 77-70 loss to South Dakota State. The Green and White went 3-7 in an opening stretch that pitted them against the eighth-hardest schedule in Division I basketball. The eight Division I teams UND faced during that stretch own a combined record of 68-27 (.716) and two of those squads (No. 4/6 Wisconsin, 12-0; and No. 12/10 Oregon, 11-0) were among the country’s remaining undefeated teams before Christmas. Only one of those teams - Cal Poly (4-8) - held an under .500 record.
CAREER LINES VS. THE T-BIRDS
Seven different players on the UND roster played against the T-Birds last season and here’s a look at their career stat lines against SUU:
# PLAYERS (gp; ppg, rpg, apg)
32 Josh Schuler (3; 12.3 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.3 apg)
Only UND player to reach double figures in all three games vs. SUU
0 Aaron Andreson (3; 10.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.7 apg)
Scored a team-high 16 points in Big Sky debut at SUU
11 Jamal Webb (3; 10.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 3.3 apg)
Went for 19 points, nine boards and five assists in regular season finale
5 Troy Huff (2; 15.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Tallied 15 points in each of his two games vs. SUU last season
41 Alonzo Traylor (1; 13.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg)
Netted only double-double of season at SUU (Dec. 17), which would be his final game of the campaign
3 Lenny Antwi (3; 6.3 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)
Had 10 points in Big Sky-quarterfinal win over T-Birds
10 Shane Benton (3; 1.0 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 0.3 apg)
Scored three points and had four rebounds in home win over SUU
WEBB FIRST TO 200
Senior Jamal Webb became the first player in UND history to reach the 200-steal plateau in a career. Webb had a season-high four steals in the loss at Northern Colorado (Dec. 29) to push his career total to 201. He broke UND’s all-time steals mark last season when he finished the campaign with 183.
NASH NETS CAREER-HIGH 22 IN BIG SKY DEBUT
Senior Jaron Nash netted a career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the floor Sunday in his Big Sky debut at Northern Colorado. His offensive output was not enough, however, to overcome a 25-0 run by the Bears that led them to an 84-66 victory in the league opener for both teams. Nash and company trimmed what was a 21-point deficit down to 10 with just over seven minutes to play, but that would be as close as UNC would let them get.
FIVE FOR NO. 5
Senior Troy Huff collected his second Big Sky Player of the Week honor of the season and fifth of his career on Dec. 23 after league officials announced their weekly accolade on Monday.
Huff, who was the first league player to earn multiple honors this season, scored 30 points and added four rebounds, two assists and two steals in a 77-70 loss to South Dakota State on Saturday, Dec. 21. He collected a league-high three weekly honors a season ago in what was UND’s first in its new league.
Huff made 10-of-14 shots from the floor, was 4-of-6 from 3-point range, and 6-of-9 from the free-throw line. His four 3-pointers matched a season-high. Huff leads the Big Sky and ranks 12th in the nation in scoring with an average of 22.7 points per game.
JACKS OUTLAST HUFF AND UND
South Dakota State withstood a trio of spirited rallies by North Dakota to post a 77-70 road win on Dec. 21 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.
Senior Troy Huff scored a game-high 30 points, but after falling behind by double digits for the second time late in the contest, the Green and White could not prevent their first home loss in four tries this season. Huff had 19 of his third 30-plus point outing of the season in the first half that saw UND erase a 12-point deficit and go into the break tied at 32.
THANK THE SAINTS
Presentation College has proven to be the remedy needed for UND to snap five-game losing streaks the past two seasons. In 2012-13, it was 74-32 victory over the Saints that got UND back in the win column. On Dec. 15, it was a 78-32 victory over the NAIA squad that improved UND’s record to 3-6. The 32 points allowed are the fewest in the Division I era.
Senior Troy Huff led a trio of UND double-figure scorers with 19. Junior Chad Calcaterra added 11 and Aaron Anderson had 10 in the 46-point victory. UND’s defense limited the Saints to just nine field goals, including only four in the opening half when the home team raced out to a 44-13 advantage.
WEBB REACHES ASSIST MILESTONE, NEARS 1,000 POINTS
Senior Jamal Webb dished out five assists in a win over Presentation and became just the fourth player in UND history to reach 400 assists in a career. He also moved into third place on the all-time charts, surpassing Rico Burkett’s (1990-91) total of 401. Webb, who already owns the all-time steals record at UND, is the first player in UND history with 400 assists and 200 steals in a career. He is also only 19 points shy of becoming the 33rd player in UND history to reach 1,000-career points.
HUFF AMONG NATION’S SCORING LEADERS
Senior Troy Huff leads all Big Sky scorers and was 14th nationally in scoring at 21.8 ppg entering the week. Huff had a streak of six straight games where he led the team in scoring end at Northern Colorado (13 points). He currently is 16th among active scorers in Division I with 1,593 points - a total that puts him eighth on the UND all-time scoring charts.
Junior Chad Calcaterra grabbed 12 rebounds in 15 games as a reserve at Colorado State during his redshirt freshman season (2011-12). In the win over Presentation, Calcaterra had 11 boards in the first half and finished with his first career double-double (11 pts, 12 rebs). His 11 points matched his previous career high set in the win over North Dakota State.
BIG MEN BANGED UP, SALMONSON RETURNS
Center Ryan Salmonson returned to action against Northern Colorado after missing four games with an ankle injury. He was limited to five minutes and missed the only field goal he attempted. Salmonson and Alonzo Traylor both missed the South Dakota State game (Dec. 21) with injuries and their size was missed against a Jacks’ starting front-line that scored 31 points and helped the visitors outrebound UND 34-26. Traylor also sat out the UNC game on Sunday and his status remains day-to-day. Senior Brandon Brekke remains sidelined and has yet to appear in a game this season.
BUCKEYE STATE RETURN
Senior Josh Schuler had the best game of his season at Bowling Green on Dec. 11, scoring a season-high 14 points in 31 minutes off the bench. Schuler played in his home state for the first time in his college career. Bowling Green is about 90 miles north of his home town of Urbana.
HOLMES, BOWLING GREEN HOLDS OFF UND
After trailing just 30-27 at the half, UND did not have an answer for Bowling Green junior Richaun Holmes in the second half. Holmes, who had just two points and two rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, erupted for 19 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks after the break. Seniors Troy Huff, Jaron Nash and Josh Schuler all reached double figures for UND, but their efforts could not net the team’s first road win of the season. Huff scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half and has led UND in scoring the past four contests. Nash added 17, while Schuler had a season-high 14 points on 4-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc. UND made it a five-point contest with just over two minutes to play, but Bowling Green was able to connect at the free-throw line to seal the win down the strech. The Falcons went 23-for-31, while UND only got the foul strip 10 times (six makes).
NASH, ANDERSON SET CAREER HIGHS AT BGSU
Senior Jaron Nash added a career-high nine rebounds to go with his 17 points at Bowling Green on Dec. 11, while Aaron Anderson posted a career-high with five steals and moved into a tie for sixth on UND’s all-time list in that category with 122. Anderson also dished out a season-high six assists, but UND also committed a season-high 18 turnovers.
LATE FIRST-HALF RUN SPARKS BUTLER IN WIN OVER UND
A 3-pointer by junior Cole Stefan put UND within a point of Butler at 21-20 with just over five minutes to play in Saturday’s first half at Hinkle Fieldhouse, but the home team outscored the visitors 18-2 over that closing stretch to put the Dec. 7 game out of reach. Senior Troy Huff scored 16 of his team-high 20 points in the second half as UND made a late charge, but could not get any closer than 13 points after trailing by as many as 28 early in the stanza. Senior Jaron Nash added 10 points and Stefan had the best game of his brief UND career with nine points. Butler owned the glass with a 44-28 advantage and did not allow an offensive rebound to UND in the first half. The Big East squad got a game-high 29 points from Kellen Dunham and 21 more from Kyhle Marshall.
COMING UP EMPTY IN EUGENE
In the opener of the Global Sports Hardwood Challenge, Cal Poly never let UND get in a rhythm offensive eventually posting a 70-43 victory on Nov. 29. The 43 points were fewer than UND had scored in five of its first six halves of the season. Freshman Quinton Hooker led UND with nine points off the bench, while seniors Troy Huff and Aaron Anderson combined for just nine points (came in averaging 46.0 ppg between them).
A slow first-half start against No. 14/15 Oregon haunted UND in a game that the hosts won 91-76. After holding a 49-32 lead at the break, the Ducks held off a late rally by UND that saw the visitors outscore the home team 44-42 in the final 20 minutes. Huff and Anderson responded from their poor performance against Cal Poly to net 25 and 22 points, respectively against the Ducks. Classmate Jaron Nash also reached double figures with 12 points. Colorado State-transfer Chad Calcaterra earned the first start of his Division I career in the contest.
In the finale vs. Pacific on Dec. 1, UND played its best half of basketball in Eugene, racing out to a 48-45 lead at halftime. Unfortunately, a nearly nine-minute field goal drought to start the second half proved costly as the Tigers were the hot team in the final 20 minutes, knocking 62 percent of their shots from the field to pull away for a 93-76 victory. Senior Jamal Webb had his best game of the young season, scoring a season-high 16 points. Webb had 18 points combined in the first five outings. Huff once again led UND in scoring with 21 points. Anderson added 12.
STEFAN MAKES UND DEBUT
Junior Cole Stefan found out prior to the NDSU game on Nov. 24 that he had been granted a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately and not have to sit out the season after transferring from Green Bay. Stefan has played in the last eight contests and is averaging 2.8 ppg. He scored a season-high nine points at Butler. Stefan averaged 3.4 ppg in 19 games at Green Bay last season and averaged 4.6 ppg in 25 games at LaSalle as a redshirt freshman during the 2010-11 season. He was a Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award Finalist at Minnetonka High School in 2009 after averaging 19.3 ppg. His squad won the Class AAAA state title his junior season when he averaged 19.0 ppg.
HUFF NETS BACK-TO-BACK 30-PLUS POINT NIGHTS
Senior Troy Huff became just the ninth player in UND history to register back-to-back games with 30-plus points earlier this season. After scoring a career-high 37 points in front of friends and family at No. 12/15 Wisconsin (Nov. 19), Huff backed up that performance with a 32-point, 10-rebound effort in the 95-77 triumph over rival North Dakota State on Sunday (Nov. 24). The last player to achieve that feat was Jerome Beasley, who reeled off three consecutive 30-point games in the final stretch of his UND career at the end of 2002-03 season. Beasley and Travis Tuttle are the only two players to accomplish that feat twice in their UND careers. Beasley holds the UND record with 14 30-plus scoring games, while Tuttle, Phil Jackson and Dave Vonesh each had 13 during their respective careers. Huff pushed his career total to four with those efforts last week.
HUFF NAMED BIG SKY PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For the fourth time in his career, senior Troy Huff was named the Big Sky Player of the Week on Nov. 25. Huff averaged 34.5 ppg, 9.5 rpg and 3.0 spg in contests at No. 12/15 Wisconsin and vs. North Dakota State. He shot 67.6 percent from the field (23-for-34) and 58.3 percent from 3-point range (7-for-12). Huff earned three weekly honors in UND’s first season in the league a year ago - that tied him with Montana’s Kareem Jamar for the most in the Big Sky during the 2012-13 season.
WIN NO. 1,500 COMES VS. RIVAL NDSU
UND picked up its 1,500th win in program history with the decisive 95-77 victory over rival North Dakota State. More than 10 percent of those wins have come against the Bison as UND improved to 159-128 all-time against its in-state rival. The program started in 1904-05 and 910 of those victories have come at home.
SELLOUT CROWD WATCHES UND DISPOSE OF RIVAL NDSU
Sunday’s crowd for the UND-North Dakota State game threatened the all-time attendance record at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center, but when the final total was announced, it fell 50 short of the record of 3,192 set on Feb. 24, 2006 vs. Minnesota Duluth. The game will go down officially as a sellout as capacity for the building, which was opened in August of 2004, is 3,064.
UND scored nearly 33 percent of its points from the charity stripe in the 18-point victory over NDSU on Nov. 24. The home team went 33-for-41 from the stripe en route to scoring 95 points against the Bison. The teams combined for 57 fouls and 77 foul shots in the contest that saw four NDSU starters and one UND reserve foul out.
HUFF BUMPS BEASLEY
Senior Troy Huff had a memorable night in front of dozens of friends and family in Madison on Nov. 19. He scored a career-high 37 points on 15-of-22 shooting from the floor and moved into UND’s top 10 list of all-time scorers with the effort. Huff bumped Jerome Beasley from the top 10 list and now sits in eighth place with 1,593 points for his career. Beasley, who was also the last UND player to score 37 points in a game (at St. Cloud State; 2003), finished his two-year career in Grand Forks with 1,402 points. Beasley was a second-round draft pick by the Miami Heat in the 2003 NBA Draft.
MADNESS IN MADISON
UND lost by 18 to No. 12/15 Wisconsin, but the 85 points scored by UND were the second most allowed by a Bo Ryan-coached Wisconsin team at home in his 13 seasons as the Badgers’ head coach. Seniors Troy Huff (37) and Jaron Nash (19) both had career highs in a game that saw UND shoot 54.5 percent from the field and 53.9 percent from 3-point range.
The 2013-14 North Dakota basketball team scored more points through three games than any other squad in program history. UND averaged 96.7 ppg during that stretch and the 290 points were 15 more than the 1977-78 team coached by Dave Gunther that held the previous record through three games.
LIKE MOTHER-LIKE SON
In two career games against his mom’s alma mater, Wisconsin, Troy Huff did his best impression of her, scoring 58 points (29.0 ppg) and grabbing 12 rebounds (6.0 rpg) at the Kohl Center. Theresa Huff left Wisconsin after her playing career ended in 1983 as the program’s all-time leading scorer (1,879) and rebounder (1,201) and was inducted into the Badgers’ Hall of Fame in 1998. Huff currently ranks fifth on the scoring charts, but still leads in rebounding. Her son moved into UND’s top 10 list for scoring with his career-high scoring effort in front of family and friends on Tuesday in Madison.
FAST START FOR NASH
In 27 career games at Texas Tech, senior Jaron Nash scored in double figures just once - a 15-point outing against Wake Forest early in the 2011-12 season at the Old Spice Classic. In 11 games in a UND uniform, Nash has reached double figures eight times and is coming off a career-high 22 points at Northern Colorado in his Big Sky debut. Nash is averaging 12.4 ppg for UND after only scoring 2.6 ppg in 27 contests with the Red Raiders during the 2011-12 season.
Head coach Brian Jones opted to use a completely different starting lineup at Wisconsin (Nov. 19) from the one in the season opener. True freshman Quinton Hooker and Alonzo Traylor started for the first time in their UND careers, while Josh Schuler picked up his 56th career start. Shane Benton earned his ninth career start and Lenny Antwi received his third. The regular starters ended up playing a majority of the minutes when it was all said and done. Senior Aaron Anderson had started the previous 66 games, including all 65 games during his sophomore and junior seasons. Jones said following the game, the second-unit prepared better leading up to the Badgers’ game and outplayed the regulars in a decisivie four-minute game in the final practice that ultimately led to his decision.
UND BREEZES BY MORRIS IN SEASON OPENER
Senior Aaron Anderson scored a game-high 23 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor (3-of-4 from 3-point range) as UND rolled to a 110-69 victory over Minnesota Morris in last Wednesday’s season opener (Nov. 13). Anderson was one of five players in double figures: Lenny Antwi (18), Troy Huff (18), Quinton Hooker (17) and Jaron Nash (15).
NO REDSHIRT FOR HOOKER
True freshman Quinton Hooker made his collegiate debut against Minnesota Morris, scoring 17 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor. He also added four assists in the victory. The 2013 Minnesota Mr. Basketball Award winner was in line to redshirt this season, but the coaching staff was to impressed by his play in fall camp to not have him on the active roster during the 2013-14 season. Hooker had four poitns and four more assists in the Wisconsin game. Through eight games, Hooker is averaging 5.0 ppg and leads the team with 20 assists.
Head coach Brian Jones picked up win No. 103 of his career in the season opener after his team thumped Minnesota Morris 110-69. The victory put him in fourth place on UND’s all-time wins list for men’s basketball. Jones now has 104 wins after his team beat NDSU for the second time in four tries during his tenure.
UND improved to 5-3 in season and home openers under Jones with the 110-69 victoy over Minnsota Morris on Wednesday. The 110 points scored were the most of the DI era and tied for the 10th most by a UND team.
ANTWI FOR THREE
Junior Lenny Antwi has a knack for season openers. After scoring a career and season high 17 points in the 2012-13 season opener vs. Waldorf, the Canadian sharp shooter bested that total with 18 points in the win over Minnesota Morris. Antwi went 7-for-11 from the field, including a 4-for-7 effort from beyond the arc.
YEAR TWO IN THE SKY
The 2013-14 season will mark the second for the club in the Big Sky Conference. In year one, Jones led UND to 12 wins, which were the most ever by a league newcomer and a third-place finish in the league standings. UND opened the campaign 1-4, but finished with an 11-4 mark and won a Division I-program record six games on the road.
HUFF CLAIMS SCORING TITLE
Senior Troy Huff won the Big Sky scoring title with a 19.2 ppg average despite missing eight games with a broken jaw he suffered in the season opener at Kansas State. He averaged 19.7 ppg in Big Sky play and was one of two league players (Montana’s Kareem Jamar) to earn unanimous All-Big Sky first team honors. Huff also landed on the Lou Henson Mid-Major All-America Team.
HUFF NAMED TO LOU HENSON PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA TEAM
Huff was one of 25 mid-major players named to the Lou Henson Preseason All-America Team on Oct. 2. Huff landed a spot on the 2012-13 Lou Henson All-America Team after leading the Big Sky in scoring at 19.2 ppg and leading UND to its third-straight CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
HUFF ON CBSSPORTS.COM TOP 30 UNDER-THE-RADAR PERFORMERS
Huff was one of 30 mid-major players listed by CBSSports.com’s Matt Norlander as under-the-radar performers to watch out for during the 2013-14. Here is what Norlander had to say about Huff:
“What a player! Checks in at around 175 pounds, yet averaged seven boards last season. He also scored 19 points for the team currently without a moniker. In addition to sniffing the defensive glass so well, he’s also a good defender and gets into passing lanes so well.”
-- UND --