Southern Utah (13-14) at UC Riverside (11-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday February 18th, 10:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Student Recreation Center (3,168) -- Riverside, California. Television: None. Home Record: SUU 8-5, UCR 6-5. Away Record: SUU 4-9, UCR 4-8. Neutral Record: SUU 1-0, UCR 1-2. Conference Record: SUU 8-9, UCR 5-8. Series Record: UC Riverside leads, 6-2.
GAME NOTES: The Southern Utah Thunderbirds will take a field trip out of the Summit League as they head to the Golden State to take on the UC Riverside Highlanders of the Big West in this year's BracketBusters event.
UC Riverside and Southern Utah have squared off against one another on eight occasions with the Highlanders owning a 6-2 advantage in the series.The Thunderbirds won the last meeting between the clubs in a 76-65 decision on December 21, 2009.
Southern Utah enters tonight's contest with a 13-14 overall record after it lost in its last two outings. The Thunderbirds fell 76-68 in overtime to Oakland on Wednesday. Southern Utah's three-point shooting woes continued against Oakland, as it made just 2-of-11 from beyond the arc in the tough loss. The Thunderbirds have scored an average of 66.1 ppg this season. On the defensive end, opponents average 67.8 ppg.
The Thunderbirds are led by the trio of Jackson Stevenett, Ramell Taylor, and Damon Heuir. Stevenett, a junior forward, owns team-best averages of 13.9 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Playing the opposite forward position, Taylor is scoring 12.1 ppg while grabbing 4.7 rpg. Heuir contributes 10.4 ppg, while Ray Jones, Jr. is adding 9.8 ppg and a team-high 4.8 assists per outing.
UCR is 11-15 overall after it fell 77-64 to Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday. The Highlanders have now suffered three losses in a row. UCR shot 48.1 percent from the floor in the loss to the Titans, which was its highest rate in nine games. The Highlanders stumbled as they were outrebounded 44-28 in the contest. UCR has the worst scoring offense in the Big West with an average of 59.8 ppg, but it has the second best scoring defense with an allowed average of 63.2 ppg.
The Highlanders will look to their star guard Phil Martin to lead the charge tonight. Martin is the second-leading scorer in the Big West with an average of 17.5 ppg and also is grabbing a team-high 5.5 rpg. Kareem Nitoto, Elliot Berry, and Kevin Bradshaw have been productive for UCR, but will have to increase their productivity a great deal for a miracle run to the NCAA Tournament to be possible.
Both these squads are in similar positions heading into the postseason. The only hope for either side is to catch fire at the right time. While SUU has more depth, Martin is going to be the best player on the hardwood in this one. Expect the senior guard to take advantage of the little time left in his collegiate career.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: UC Riverside 66, Southern Utah 62
02/18 10:37:17 ET