Southern Utah (1-9) at Northern Colorado (7-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 4, 9:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion (2,992) -- Greeley, Colorado. Television: None. Home Record: SUU 1-2, UNC 6-0. Away Record: SUU 0-7, UNC 1-3. Neutral Record: SUU 0-0, UNC 0-0. Conference Record: SUU 0-1, UNC 1-0. Series Record: Northern Colorado leads, 2-1.
GAME NOTES: Northern Colorado hopes to keep its perfect home record intact when the Bears host the struggling Southern Utah Thunderbirds in Big Sky Conference action on Saturday night.
The Bears improved to 6-0 at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion last Sunday by upending North Dakota, 84-66, behind Derrick Barden's double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds. Tim Huskisson, Dominique Lee and Tevin Svihovec each contributed 13 points in the convincing win, one that saw the Bears shoot a scorching 60.4 percent from the field.
Barden has been a force inside all season, leading the team in scoring (14.1 ppg) and rebounding (9.2 rpg) while getting help from several regular contributors. Svihovec is putting up 11.7 ppg, while Tate Unruh and Huskisson are donating 11.2 and 9.9 ppg, respectively. Northern Colorado can hang its hat on a terrific .480 shooting percentage, and its defense has been stout as well, allowing opponents to make just 41.5 percent of their total shots.
The Bears lead the conference in several categories, including scoring defense and rebounding differential, and they are the only Big Sky program receiving votes in this week's CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top-25 poll.
Thursday's conference opener was a promising one for Southern Utah, albeit in another losing effort. The Thunderbirds stayed with North Dakota the entire game, but were done in by a late 8-0 run down the stretch. It was the ninth straight loss for Southern Utah after opening the season with a win over Arizona Christian.
Trey Kennedy poured in 20 points on Thursday, while John Marshall chipped in 10 points for SUU, which was outscored in the paint, 32-18. Kennedy has been the only consistent scorer for the Thunderbirds this season, averaging 11.6 ppg. The next leading scorer is A.J. Hess at 8.4 ppg, and the squad is producing just under 57 points per contest. That comes, in part, from committing five more turnovers per game than assists, and a woeful .362 shooting percentage from the floor.
These conference foes split the home-and-home series last season, but all signs point to UNC putting a hurt on the sinking Thunderbirds in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Northern Colorado 80, Southern Utah 62
01/04 10:38:21 ET