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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 5:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Reese Court (6,000) -- Cheney, Washington. Television: None. Home Record: SUU 8-3, EWU 5-5. Away Record: SUU 2-9, EWU 1-11. Neutral Record: SUU 0-2, EWU 1-1. Conference Record: SUU 8-7, EWU 5-9. Series Record: Southern Utah leads, 4-1.
GAME NOTES: Closing out a four-game road trip on Saturday afternoon, the Southern Utah Thunderbirds pay a visit to the Eastern Washington Eagles for a Big Sky Conference battle.
One of several new additions to the conference this season, SUU is currently tied with North Dakota for third place in the standings with a record of 8-7, trailing only Montana and Weber State. Unfortunately, the Thunderbirds are coming off consecutive setbacks against the likes of WSU (75-58) last weekend and Portland State (90-69) two nights ago.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are in the bottom portion of the league standings with just five wins in 14 attempts. Eastern Washington last took the floor a week ago and somehow secured a 77-74 overtime victory against Northern Arizona, even while allowing an NAU player to record the first triple-double in program history.
SUU won the first meeting of the season last month by a score of 69-55 at home as Wade Collie tallied a game-high 18 points and the team survived just 2- of-10 shooting behind the 3-point line. With the victory, the T'birds now lead the series by a 4-1 mark.
Shooting just 33.3 percent from the floor, including 4-of-18 behind the 3- point line, the Thunderbirds dug themselves a deep hole against Portland State on the road two nights ago and never recovered. Jackson Stevenett tried to give the visitors a fighting chance with his game-high 26 points, but it just wasn't meant to be. The only other double-digit scorer for the T'birds was Damon Heuir who tallied 14 points and handed out six of their 10 assists, but at the same time he shot just 1-of-7 out on the perimeter.
Stevenett has scored in double figures in every game since the start of December, putting up at least 20 points in four of the last five outings as he now averages 17.3 ppg. Heuir checks in with another 16.7 ppg, as he makes good on 32.9 percent beyond the arc and has combined with Stevenett to convert 198- of-236 at the free-throw line. However, through 24 games SUU has allowed its opponents to make about 21 shots at the charity stripe and has been outscored by 131 points at the line as a result.
It is not often that a college player pulls off a triple-double and rarely does that happen and his team actually lose, but that's what happened last weekend as the Eagles slipped by NAU in overtime by three points on the road. The visitors were paced by Parker Kelly and his 19 points, followed by Tyler Harvey and Kevin Winford with 14 and 12 points, respectively. Jeffrey Forbes contributed another 10 points, eight boards and four assists for EWU as well.
Coming off a win and having a week to enjoy that success is the good news for the Eagles, but the bad news has Venky Jois (13.1 ppg), their leading scorer on the season, being listed as questionable with an injury. Not only might the Eagles be taking the floor without one of their key offensive threats, Jois is also the leading rebounder as well with close to 10 boards per game. Considering that even with his efforts the program is allowing opponents to pull down more than 40 rpg, the loss of Jois might be too much to take.
Southern Utah has not been very good on the road this season, but this might be just the right time for the Thunderbirds to take flight against the struggling Eagles.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Southern Utah 77, Eastern Washington 66
02/16 10:45:46 ET
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