T-Bird Men Host Coyotes To Close Homestand

January 27, 2012
By SUU Strategic Communication

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Jackson Stevenett posted his first career double-double vs. UMKC on Thursday night
Jackson Stevenett posted his first career double-double vs. UMKC on Thursday night
Courtesy: SUU Publications

Southern Utah's men's basketball team wraps up its four-game home stretch Saturday night when the Thunderbirds host South Dakota in a Summit League match-up.

The Thunderbirds (11-10/6-5 Summit League) have won four of their last five games, including a 57-47 home win over UMKC on Thursday night. With that win SUU remained tied with Oakland for fourth place in The Summit League, while idle Western Illinois dropped a half-game back into sixth.

South Dakota (7-13/2-9 Summit League) will be looking to snap a two-game skid after falling at Oral Roberts, 97-64, on Thursday. Last week the Coyotes picked up their first-ever Summit League home win, a 88-78 triumph over IUPUI on Thursday night, but they were unable to build any momentum as they lost a heart-breaker to Western Illinois, 47-45, on Saturday.

SUU will be looking to complete a season sweep against the Coyotes, as they claimed a 81-75 win in overtime at USD on Dec. 28.

The Game: South Dakota (7-13/2-9) at SUU (11-10/6-5), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (MST) in the Centrum Arena (5,300). The game is the second in a double-header which also features the two schools' women's teams.

Radio: All Southern Utah men's basketball games are broadcast live by KSUU (91.1 FM) as well as on the internet at www.suu.edu/ksuu. Art Challis is in his 39th season as the Thunderbirds' basketball play-by-play voice. Dr. Challis is joined on home broadcasts by former SUU standout Dean O'Driscoll.
The Series: Saturday's game will be just the second between the Thunderbirds and Coyotes on the basketball court. SUU won the first match-up, 81-75 in overtime, in Vermillion, S.D. last Dec. 28.

Practice Schedule: When at home the practice schedule calls for the team to work out at 3:00 p.m. daily. Contact SUU Director of Athletic Media Relations Neil Gardner for more information.

Media Availability: Players and coaches are available for interviews on Tuesdays prior to practice, between 2:30-3:00 p.m., with occasional adjustments due to scheduling conflicts. To contact a player or coach on another day or time contact Neil Gardner at gardner@suu.edu or 435-586-7753.

Video Highlights: Video highlights of SUU's Summit League home games will be available to accredited media outlets via SUU's FTP site. For information on obtaining those highlights contact SUU Director of Athletic Media Relations Neil Gardner.

Southern Utah is in its 15th and final season in The Summit League. All but two of SUU's sports compete in The Summit, with football a member of the Great West Conference and gymnastics an affiliate member of the Western Athletic Conference. Most of SUU's programs will move into the Big Sky Conference in 2012. South Dakota is also a member of The Summit League.

Videostreaming/Live Stats at www.suutbirds.com: 
All of Southern Utah's 2011-12 home games are video-streamed on the SUU athletic website at www.suutbirds.com. Live stats for all home games and most road games are also be available. Video streams are on a pay basis but there is no cost for live stats.

Thunderbird Club Luncheons:
 The Thunderbird Club's weekly no-host luncheon is held Mondays at noon in the Tradition Room in the home of President Michael Benson. The public is invited to attend the luncheons where Southern Utah's in-season coaches talk about their upcoming contests and review the past week's action.

Next Up: SUU heads out on its final two-game Summit League road swing next week for games at North Dakota State and South Dakota State. The Thunderbirds then return home to host Western Illinois and IUPUI on Feb. 9 and 11.

The Coaches: 

Head Coach Roger Reid (Weber State '68) is in his fifth season on the Southern Utah bench. Reid takes a career Division I mark of 203-166 - including a 51-90 record at SUU - into the game. His record includes six years as head coach at Brigham Young. He is 1-0 vs. South Dakota.

Coach Reid's career has spanned virtually every level of the coaching strata, including the high school, junior college, and NCAA Division I levels as well as in the NBA and international ranks. He is probably best known for his success at Brigham Young University, where he led the Cougars to five NCAA tournament berths and three Western Athletic Conference championships. He has also coached the Phoenix Suns of the NBA and the Hangzhou Horses of the Chinese Basketball Association. Reid coached Snow College to a conference title and a No. 18 national ranking in his final season on the bench there.

Reid is assisted by Ron Carling (BYU '70), a 40-year coaching veteran who is also entering his fifth season with the program; Johnny Brown (New Mexico '86), an 18-year veteran of the coaching ranks who is in his fifth year in Cedar City; and assistant Kenya Crandell (Nebraska-Kearney '96) who is entering his 15th season as a collegiate coach and his fourth year at SUU.

Captains: This year's captains are SUU's three seniors: Ray Jones, Jr., Matt Massey, and Ramell Taylor.

Thunderbird Notes:

  • Ray Jones, Jr., picked up his third foul with 54 seconds to play in the first half against UMKC. At that point he had five points, one rebound and one assist. He played all 20 minutes of the second half without committing his fourth foul, and in that time he scored 13 points (for a game-high 18), dished out four assists, picked off a steal, blocked a shot and pulled down a rebound.
  • Jackson Stevenett pulled down a career-high 10 rebounds vs. UMKC en route to his first double-double. He had just missed a double-double, with 18 points and a then-career-high-tying nine boards vs. IPFW in the previous game.
  • Jones' team scoring-lead vs. the Kangaroos extended the Thunderbirds' streak of having a different player pacing the team each night to five games, with four different players in four straight games. Stevenett led the team with 18 vs. IPFW, Ramell Taylor (17 points) paced the 'Birds vs. Oakland, Damon Heuir (22) led the team at Western Illinois and it was Jones atop the scoring chart at IUPUI (21). The last time a player led the team in back-to-back games was Jones vs.North Dakota State (15) and again at IUPUI (21).
  • Taylor tied his career-high with three blocks vs. UMKC as SUU combined to block a season-high seven shots against the 'Roos. The previous best effort was against North Dakota State, when the team had six and Taylor had three.
  • SUU got just two points and two rebounds from its bench vs. UMKC, all from Jaren Jeffery, and all in the first half. The only other statistic from the bench was a Jordan Johnson assist as SUU's starters played 180 minutes in the game.
  • SUU held UMKC to an opponent-season-low 47 points. It was the lowest point total by an SUU opponent during the Roger Reid era. The last time SUU held a team to as few or fewer points was back in December of 2003 when Montana Tech tallied just 41 points. The last time SUU held a Division I opponent to 47 or fewer points was in February of 2002 when the T-Birds limited Chicago State to 35.
  • The win over UMKC marked the first time this season SUU has overcome a halftime deficit to post a win. Prior to the game SUU was 0-6 when trailing at the break.
  • Three T-Birds sport double-figure scoring averages: Stevenett at 13.9, Taylor at 12.9 ppg and Heuir at 10.8. Jones averages 9.9 ppg and Matt Massey was averaging 10.2 heading into the Oakland game but he scored just two points against the Grizzlies and against UMKC and is now at 9.4 ppg. In conference games Stevenett is averaging 16.8 ppg, Taylor is at 12.3 ppg, Jones checks in at 10.9 ppg and Heuir averages 10.4.
  • Stevenett has pulled down 115 rebounds to lead the team with 5.5 per game, while Taylor has 100, an average of 4.8.
  • Following Saturday's game Jones ranks 45th in the nation in assists, with an average of 5.3 per game, and he is 79th in assist/turnover ratio, at 2.0.
  • Heading into the week the Thunderbirds ranked 35th in the nation and atop The Summit League with an average of 15.2 dimes per game.  
  • Stevenett's .498 shooting percentage ranks 88th in the nation and as a team SUU ranks 23rd in field goal percentage this week, at .483.
  • The Thunderbirds have out-rebounded their opponents by a 32.5-30.1 average.
  • SUU has 304 assists, an average of 15.2 a game and 85 more than its opponents combined (219, 10.95 average).
  • Prior to Thursday's 57-47 win over UMKC the 58 points the T-Birds scored against IPFW were the team's fewest in a win since a 53-48 win over IUPUI in the quarterfinal round of the 2009 Summit League tournament.

Scouting the Coyotes:

South Dakota averages 68.4 points per game while giving up an average of 73.8. The Coyotes have hit 44.1 percent of their field goal attempts (.329 threes) while opponents have shot at a .451 clip (.366 threes). USD has converted 69.8 percent of its free throw attempts and has been out-rebounded by an average of 37.0-to-32.9 per game.

Three Coyotes carry double-figure scoring averages, guards Charlie Westbrook (6-4, 186, Sr) and Louie Krogman (6-1, 185, Sr) and center Trevor Gruis (6-10, 235, So). Westbrook averages 17.6 points while Krogman - the team's assists leader with 3.5 per game - scores at a 14.3 ppg clip, and Gruis averages 11.1 points and 5.6 rebounds, second-best on the team. Ricardo Andreotti (C, 6-8, 221, Sr) leads the team in rebounding with 6.5 per game.

South Dakota is 3-9 on the road this season, 1-3 in Summit League games. The conference win came at UMKC, 76-57; it was the Coyotes' first Summit League win in men's basketball. USD's league road losses have come at South Dakota State (86-56), North Dakota State (82-59) and Oral Roberts (97-64).