Courtesy: Russell Hons for
Freshman Tray Buchanan scored a career-high points off the bench in UND's Big Sky opener vs. Idaho.
Notes: Hawks look to bounce back vs. Eagles
Release: 12/30/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- North Dakota will look to even up its Big Sky record Sunday when Eastern Washington visits Grand Forks for a New Year’s Eve matinee at The Betty. Tip-off against the Eagles is set for 4 p.m. CT.

All-time: UND leads 7-3
In Grand Forks: UND leads 5-0
Last Meeting: UND 95, EWU 86 (Feb. 9, 2017; Grand Forks)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. EWU: 6-2 
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Legans: First Meeting
EWU Head Coach Shantay Legans vs. UND: First Meeting 
EWU Head Coach Shantay Legans vs. Jones: First Meeting

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• This will be the third-consecutive season the Fighting Hawks have played a game on the final day of the calendar year and they are 7-3 all-time on Dec. 31.• The Eagles and Fighting Hawks met only once last season with UND picking up a 95-86 win at home on Feb. 9.
• Both teams suffered losses in their league openers with UND falling to preseason favorite Idaho 74-57, while Eastern Washington fell at Northern Colorado 88-75.
• UND’s 18 first-half points and 57 total points against Idaho, who came in as the top ranked defense in the Big Sky, were both season lows. 
• This is the sixth and final season in the Big Sky for the Fighting Hawks,  who will join the Summit League in 2018-19. 
• UND owns a 52-39 record in its first five seasons of league play, including its best showing of 14-4 during its title run last season. However, the Fighting Hawks are just 1-5 in Big Sky openers after falling to the Vandals on Friday.
• UND has only started Big Sky play 0-2 once before and that was in its inaugural season in 2012-13. The Fighting Hawks have won their next game each of the last four times after dropping the league opener.
• The loss to Idaho was the fifth-straight setback for UND, who has not lost six in a row since dropping the final nine games of the 2014-15 season. 

The Fighting Hawks went 11-2 at The Betty last season and own a 122-57 record in the building that opened prior to the 2004-05 season. UND won its eighth-consecutive home opener earlier this season, but the Fighting Hawks are just 1-3 since the 79-48 victory over Northland College on Nov. 21. The Fighting Hawks were 8-1 in Big Sky play on their home court a year ago.

UND’s first Big Sky road trip will be to the Treasure State where the Fighting Hawks will open that swing against Montana on Thursday, Jan. 4. Tip-off against the Grizzlies is set for 8 p.m. CT. Dahlberg Arena is the only road venue where UND has not picked up a Big Sky win (0-5), but the Fighting Hawks have won in the building as a league member. They defeated Southern Utah in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Big Sky Tournament hosted by the Griz.

Junior Geno Crandall has reached double figures in all three career games against Eastern Washington, averaging 14.0 ppg. He is also averaging 5.3 apg against the Eagles. Crandall leads UND with nine double-figure scoring games this season.

The North Dakota men’s basketball program holds a 1566-1043 (.600) all-time record since Dr. George Sweetland led the first team onto the court in 1904-05. North Dakota is 946-283 (.770) all-time when it comes to defending its home court. 

Sophomore Marlon Stewart scored just 26 points  (8.7 ppg) in his first three career games for UND, but is averaging nearly double that figure in his last nine games (15.9 ppg), including a career-hig 24 points against Utah Valley (Nov. 25) and team-high 23 against NDSU (Dec. 9). That was his third 20-plus point game of the season for Stewart. He had a career-high nine helpers in UND’s outing against Presentation (Nov. 28). Stewart went for 15 points and went 6-for-6 from the foul line vs. the Zags (Dec. 16) and had 15 of UND’s 18 first-half points against Idaho. He finished with 17.

Geno Crandall became the 36th player in UND men’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau and the junior arrived at the figure in one of the most dramatic ways possible. The milestone came on his 3-pointer that sent the UND-Gonzaga game into overtime, tying the game at 69-69 with 1.8 seconds to play.  Crandall’s milestone came in his 73rd career game, which made him the quickest among the six Fighting Hawks to reach that plateau during the program’s Division I era. Troy Huff (2010-14) had been the quickest among the first quintet after taking 74 career games. Huff ended his career as the program’s third all-time leading scorer with 2,005 points. 

Junior Cortez Seales did his part in trying to deliver UND’s first win over a ranked opponent, scoring a season-high 23 points in the OT loss at No. 12/13 Gonzaga (Dec. 16). Seales went 11-for-15 from the field, including a stretch in the first half where he made seven-consecutive shots from the field in helping give UND a 34-30 lead on the Bulldogs at halftime. It marked the first time UND had led a ranked opponent at the break in program history. His 11 field goals made against the Zags equaled his career-best from his collegiate debut (UM-Morris; Nov. 13, 2015).

Iowa grad transfer Dale Jones earned a starting role entering the 2017-18 season for his new team and the 6-foot-8 forward has proven his worth early on this season. Jones reached double figures twice at the Rainbow Classic and nearly scored as many points (31) in those three games as he did in his two-year Iowa career (33). Injuries limited him to just 11 games for the Hawkeyes. Through 11 games for the Fighting Hawks, Jones is averaging 9.9 ppg and a team-best 6.8 rpg, which is sixth best in the Big Sky. He scored a career-high 18 points in the loss at South Dakota State (Dec. 12) and added 14 against Gonzaga (Dec. 16). He missed the Big Sky opener vs. Idaho and is considered day-to-day moving forward.

Freshman Tray Buchanan is UND’s top scoring threat off the bench, averaging 4.9 ppg this season. After scoring just 12 points in his last four games, Buchanan came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points in his Big Sky debut against Idaho. He buried a trio of 3-pointers and added three free throws all in the second half. 

• Head coach Shantay Legans is in his first season leading the Eastern Washington program. He is the only rookie coach in the Big Sky this season and has the Eagles off to a 5-9 start. He was on the Eagles’ staff as an assistant coach under Jim Hayford for the past eight seasons.
• Preseason All-Big Sky pick Bogdan Bliznyuk is EWU’s top player and is the only Eagle averaging double figures through 14 games (18.2 ppg).
• Bliznyuk is also the only Eagle that has started all 14 games, while eight of his teammates have at least three starts to their credit.
• Jesse Hunt has started the last three games and is coming off a 16-point performance against Northern Colorado on Friday. Hunt’s averaging 8.4 ppg, which is second best on the team, and is shooting 50 percent from the floor.
• Bliznyuk led the Eagles with 23 points against the Bears on 10-of-18 shooting and also dished out a game-high six assists.
• The Eagles get off nearly 25 3-point attempts per game and Ty Gibson leads the team in makes (32) and attempts (83) from distance. He is averaging 8.1 ppg.
• EWU is just 1-8 on the road this season and went 35 days in between home games. That lone victory was an impressive one, however, as the Eagles beat Pac-12 foe Stanford 67-61 on Nov. 14.
• Bliznyuk is one of seven international players that help make up the Eagles’ 18-man roster. Six different countries are represented in total, including three from Australia. 

-- UND --

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