GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The North Dakota men's basketball team has positioned itself to earn one of the top three seeds at the Big Sky Tournament for the second straight season if it can win its final two games. The Green and White will play the first of those on Tuesday night against its Big Sky travel partner Northern Colorado at 7 p.m., then make the quick trip to Cedar City, Utah to play at Southern Utah on Thursday in the regular season finale.
UND VS. NORTHERN COLORADO SERIES
All-time: UND leads 41-21
Division I: UNC leads 5-1
Last Meeting: UNC 84, UNC 66 (12/29/13; Greeley, Colo.)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Northern Colorado: 1-5
Northern Colorado Head Coach B.J. Hill vs. UND: 2-1
IN THE PAINT...
• The Bears come to Grand Forks looking up at UND in the Big Sky standings for the first time this season after losing at home to Eastern Washington and Portland State this past week. Those were the first two home losses for UNC this season, who fell into a tie for fourth place at 10-8.
• UNC was UND’s initial Big Sky opponent of the season as the two teams played nearly two months ago in Greeley. The Bears rolled to an 84-66 victory on Dec. 29 in what has been the most lopsided loss for UND in Big Sky play this season.
• UND managed to beat both PSU and EWU, which included a thrilling 69-67 victory over the Eagles on Senior Day that Troy Huff capped with a buzzer beater.
• The two victories vaulted UND into sole possession of second place in the Big Sky at 11-7 with Montana only a half-game back. The Griz can move into a tie for second with a win Monday over Montana State.
• Despite falling to Northern Arizona in overtime on Saturday, Weber State earned a share of the Big Sky title and will host the league’s postseason tournament.
NUMBERS MICROSCOPE: SENIOR STYLE
1-2: Point guard Jamal Webb is UND’s all-time career leader in steals with 231 and ranks second in assists with 381.
3: The 2013-14 senior class has three 1,000-point scorers - only one other class in program history can claim that as well (1999-20; Chad Mustard, Marcus Travis and Hunter Reinke).
15: With 1,897 points career points, senior Troy Huff ranks 15th among active scorers in Division I basketball (4th at UND). He also is 16th among active players with 216 career steals (2nd at UND).
43: The 2013-14 seniors have combined to go 43-12 at home during four-year run at UND. The team is 10-3 at The Betty this season.
65: UND’s six active seniors scored 65 of the team’s 69 points during the Senior Day win over Eastern Washington.
443: UND’s seven seniors have combined to start 443 career games and play in 628
537: These seven seniors have combined to make 537 3-pointers during their UND careers - Aaron Anderson leads the pack with 146.
LOOKING BACK: NASH NETS CAREER-HIGH 22 IN BIG SKY DEBUT
Jaron Nash netted a then career-high 22 points on 10-of-14 shooting in his Big Sky debut at Northern Colorado (Dec. 28). His offensive output was not enough 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 go, but that would be as close as UNC would let them get. UND took 17 more field goal attempts than UNC did, but made five fewer as the Bears shot 60 percent from the field to make up for 20 turnovers.
CAREER LINE VS. THE BEARS
# PLAYERS (gp; ppg, rpg, apg)
32 Josh Schuler (3; 4.7 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.7 apg)
Had eight points in last year’s home meeting vs. UNC
0 Aaron Andreson (4; 13.8 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 3.8 apg)
Averaged 19.5 ppg against the Bears in last year’s Big Sky meetings
11 Jamal Webb (4; 8.3 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.8 apg)
Netted 12 points against the Bears in Greeley as a freshman
5 Troy Huff (4; 16.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.3 apg)
Has reached double figures in all four career games against the Bears
33 Chad Calcaterra (1; 8.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Had eight points in start at Greeley earlier this season
1 Jaron Nash (1; 22.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.0 apg)
2 Cole Stefan (1; 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)
3 Lenny Antwi (2; 2.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.0 apg)
10 Shane Benton (3; 0.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.0 apg)
21 Quinton Hooker (1; 2.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
41 Ryan Salmonson (1; 0.0 ppg, 0.0 rpg)
LAST TIME OUT: SIGNIFICANT SEVEN WIN ON SENIOR DAY
Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff , Jaron Nash, Josh Schuler,
Alonzo Traylor and Jamal Webb were all honored in a special pre-game ceremony prior to Saturday’s dramatic 69-67 victory over Eastern Washington. And, the six active seniors combined for 65 of the team’s 69 points in the contest and Huff delivered the game-winning basket at the buzzer when his putback off a Jamal Webb miss sealed the win. Huff finished with 14 points - all coming the second half, while Webb added 13 and nine rebounds. Nahs, who is the newest member of this class had a game-high 21 poinst as the Texas Tech transfer went 8-for-14 from the field. Anderson, who has played in the most games among the seven, had seven points and a game-high seven assists. Josh Schuler scored five big points before leaving the game with a shoulder injury early in the second half and Traylor scored his four points late in the contest to help secure the win.
The impact this year’s seven-member senior class has made during the program’s infancy as a Division I member has been immense and probably will not be truly felt until years from now. However, there are some measurable things about this class that show just how successful it has been over the past four seasons. There are 66 victories, an overall winning record, three consecutive CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament appearances and two Great West Tournament titles. The unit’s 12 Big Sky wins last season were the most ever by a league newcomer. The class boasts a trio of 1,000-point scorers - only one other class in UND history (1999-2000 seniors) can claim that.
If not for untimely injuries, that number could easily be four or even five. The class has multiple All-Conference and All-Tournament team accolades to its credit and has started 444 games and logged well over 15,000 minutes of game time throughout their careers. As far as history goes, the class will leave several entries into UND’s all-time and single-season record book for everything from points and steals to 3-pointers made and assists. There may never be another class in the history of UND basketball that can lay claim to this level of significance. And, if another class does come along and out performs this one, that is all the better for the program as these seven student-athletes can always treasure the foundation they laid for Division I basketball at UND.
SENIOR DAY-JA VU
Is there a better way for a senior to go out, then to hit a game-winning buzzer beater on Senior Day? The answer is no, but for it to happen once is remarkable, but twice in a three-year stretch is astounding. Former UND hoopster Patrick Mitchell brought the home court crowd to its feet on his Senior Day back in 2011 when his free-throw line jumper at the horn gave his team a 57-56 victory over Utah Valley. The Betty Engelstad Sioux Center fans were treated to another improbable Senior Day ending on Saturday when from nearly the identical spot on the floor, Troy Huff gave his team a thrilling 69-67 victory over Eastern Washington with an off-balance, one-handed thrust that fell through the strings as the horn sounded.
THE MARCH IS ON
Head coach Brian Jones owns a 17-9 record in the month of March since he took over the UND program prior to the 2006-07 season. Over the last three seasons, that record is an impressive 12-4 with two Great West Tournament titles and an appearance in the Big Sky Tournament semifinals in the program’s first season in its new league under his belt.
IN CONTROL OF THE MADNESS
Nothing is official yet, but with its two home wins last week UND put itself in position to clinch a Big Sky Tournament berth with a win Tuesday over Northern Colorado. At 11-7, UND is second alone for the time being, but only two games separate a pack of nine league teams. Weber State has clinched a share of the title and the right to host the event in Ogden with a 13-5 record heading into the final week. The Wildcats play at Eastern Washington and Portland State - who are two of the three teams tied for sixth at 9-9. It will be a wild weekend finish to the Big Sky regular season, but one thing is for certain, UND controls its own destiny in terms of being one of the top three seeds for the second straight season. Two wins would put them at 13-7 and only Montana, who is 10-7 entering Monday’s game with Montana State, could get to that number of wins in league play. The Griz do hold the tiebreaker over UND by virtue of splitting its two games with Weber State.
HUFF REACHES 1,000-POINT PLATEAU AS BIG SKY MEMBER
With 24 points in the win over Portland State, senior Troy Huff eclipsed
the 1,000-point plateau over the past two seasons since UND joined the Big Sky Conference. He added 14 in the EWU contest and his 1,025 points are the most by a league member during that stretch. The Milwaukee native also became became the first UND player to since Jerome Beasley had 772 points during his senior season in 2002-03 to score 500-plus points in a season. Huff ’s 544 points are a single-season high.
Seniors Jamal Webb and Troy Huff rank one-two on UND’s all-time charts for career steals with 231 and 216, respectively, so it should come as little surprise that duo ranks the same way in the Big Sky stats this season. UND ranks 11th nationally, averaging 8.6 spg as a team, which is tops in the Big Sky. Huff is having his best season in the theif category, getting a league-leading 2.4 spg, while Webb is not far behind at 1.7 spg. Huff has a league-leading 41 in Big Sky play, while Webb is second with 34. With 67 total steals, Huff is within reach of UND’s single-season record of 75 set by Rico Burkett during the 1989-90 season. Webb fell one shy of that mark last season, but needs only two more to become the first player in UND history to register four 50-plus steal seasons.
RESERVATIONS FOR SUCCESS
UND had its streak of 13 straight games where its reserves outscored the opponents snapped on Feb. 20 at Sacramento State. The Hornets’ bench accounted for 30 points, edging UND’s bench in that department by four points. UND’s reserves averaged 31.0 ppg during that stretch.
The senior trio of Aaron Anderson, Troy Huff and Jamal Webb each played well over 3,000 minutes during their UND careers that began as true freshman in 2010-11. Here is a look at where the three sit, respectively, on a number of UND’s top 10 list.
Aaron Anderson (Sr., G, Brooklyn Park, Minn.)
Steals (4th; 136)
Assists (6th; 345)
Free throws made (8th; 413)
Free throws attempted (t8th; 509)
3-pointers made (7th; 147)
3-point field goal percentage (t4th; 42.4)
3-point field goals attempted (9th; 347)
Troy Huff (Sr., G, Milwaukee, Wis.)
Points (4th; 1,897)
Field goals made (4th; 667)
Field goals attempted (2nd; 1,522)
Free throws made (5th; 430)
Free throws attempted (2nd; 641)
3-pointers attempted (6th; 452)
3-pointers made (9th; 133)
Steals (2nd; 216)
Jamal Webb (Sr., G, Buffalo, N.Y.)
Steals (1st; 231)
Assists (2nd; 471)
HUFF MORE THAN A SCORER
Senior Troy Huff has led the team in rebounding in 21 of 27 games and ranks fifth in the Big Sky in that category (7.2 rpg). In leauge play, Huff is averaging 7.4 rpg, which is also fifth best among Big Sky players. He leads the team with five doube-doubles (tied for fourth in the Big Sky) and has 15 for his career. With a team-high six rebounds in the win over the Grizzlies on Feb. 15, he surpassed the 700-mark for his career (720) and should crack UND’s top 10 all-time list in the category Tuesday vs. Northern Colorado. Scott Guldseth, who is the program’s all-time leading scorer, ranks 10th all-time in rebounds with 723. Huff became just the 10th player in UND history to score 1,000 points and pull down 700 rebounds in a career.
WHEREVER YOU NEED ME
Senior Jamal Webb has been back in the starting lineup for the last five games after coming off the bench for eight straight. Webb played well in that role, averaging 7.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.3 apg and 1.9 spg during that stretch. In the five games back in his customary starting role, Webb is averaging 13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg and 3.3 apg. He equaled his career-high with 23 points at Sacramento State on Feb. 20, then had a season-high nine rebounds at Northern Arizona (Feb. 22) that he matched on Senior Day against Eastern Washington (March 1). Webb, who went 7-for-7 from the foul line against SAC, is 14-for-18 (77.8 percent) from the charity stripe in those five games and has got hot from beyond the arc, nailing 8-of-15 (53.3 percent) from deep.
HUFF TAKES FOURTH ON ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Senior Troy Huff was held to single digits for just the second time in Big Sky play this season at Sacramento State on Feb. 20, but his eight points moved him into fourth place on UND’s all-time scoring list. Fourth place had been occupied by Chris Gardner, who scored 1,829 points during his career (1989-94). Huff is averaging 15.9 ppg for his career, which is the ninth best average in UND history. He enters the Northern Colorado game with 1,897 career points.
ON THE BOARDS...FINALLY
It took 15 games, but UND finally held an advantage in rebounding over a Division I opponent when the Green and White outrebounded Montana State 33-26 on Jan. 18. UND is now 5-3 overall when outrebounding opponents this season (Minnesota-Morris, Win; Presentation, Win; Montana State (away), Win; Sacramento State (home), Win; Portland State (away), Loss; Weber State (home), Loss; Sacramento State (road), Loss; Northern Arizona (road), Win). Remarkably, UND is 8-10 when being outrebounded.
AMONG THE BEST IN THE NATION
In the latest NCAA rankings, UND enters the Northern Colorado game 13th in the country in steals per game (8.6) and 12th in turnover margin (+3.6). UND tops the Big Sky in both of those categories. The defense is also forcing teams into just over 15 turnovers a game, which is tops in the league.
MORE ROUND NUMBERS FOR MALLIE
The 1,000-point club is not the first milestone senior Jamal Webb reached during his UND tenure. He already became the first player in UND history to reach 200 steals in a career and just the fourth to dish out 400 assists. He has also been one of the top rebounding guards in program history and corralled rebound No. 500 in a win over Idaho State on Jan. 9. By reaching 1,000 points, Webb became the first player in school history with 1,000 points, 500 rebounds, 400 assists and 200 steals in a career.
NASH MAKING IMPACT
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 26 games in a UND uniform, Nash has reached double figures 15 times and scored a career-high 27 points at Weber State on Feb. 6. Nash is averaging 10.7 ppg for UND after only scoring 2.6 ppg in 27 contests with the Red Raiders during the 2011-12 season. Nash has led UND in scoring four times this season.
SAMARITAN’S FEET: COACH JONES BAREFOOT COACHING
For the second consecutive year, head coach Brian Jones joined the ranks of coaches around the country who are supporting Samaritan’s Feet by coaching a game barefoot. Jones and Montana State head coach Brad Huse both went shoeless in a Feb. 13 matchup at The Betty. Samaritan’s Feet is an organization that puts shoes on people around the world with one of their primary fundraising platforms being “Barefoot Coaching.” The funds raised from that evening and the on-line drive will go towards “Back To School ND 2014” to help Samaritan’s Feet reach its goal of serving at least 2,014 chidren in North Dakota this summer through shoe distributions at four locations across the state. The need for shoes is not just in other countries, it is right here at home as well. Show your support for Coach Jones as donations are still be accepted onlineat: http://bit.ly/BarefootJones
-- UND --