GAME NOTES: Both the Southern Utah Thunderbirds and the Idaho State Bengals will attempt to halt losing streaks on Thursday night when the squads meet up at Holt Arena for a Big Sky Conference clash.
Since opening the season with an 85-78 victory over Arizona Christian, SUU has been one of the worst teams in the country with 12 consecutive losses, which includes an 0-4 start in the Big Sky. The Thunderbirds most recently lost to Northern Arizona at home, 70-36, and have now dropped three in a row by at least 28 points.
While Idaho State's campaign has been far from impressive, it has been a success story when compared to SUU's season, as it is 5-8 overall and 2-2 in the league. The Bengals dropped a pair of road games last week to North Dakota (66-62) and Northern Colorado (82-75) but have gone 4-1 at Holt Arena.
SUU holds a 13-7 lead in the all-time series with Idaho State. Each team won on the road in the two meetings last season.
Simply put, the Thunderbirds have had no hope in recent weeks, and its bout with NAU on Monday night was no exception, as they shot a measly 24 percent from the field while allowing NAU to shoot 58.7 percent on their way to an embarrassing 34-point setback. The team finished with more turnovers (14) than field goals (12), so it's no surprise that no one scored in double figures, although Jaren Jeffery (eight points, five rebounds) and Jayson Cheesman (seven points) were both solid in reserve minutes.
On the season, SUU has been flat out terrible on the offensive end of the court, as it ranks last among all NCAA Division I teams in both field goal percentage (.354) and scoring (54.2 ppg). Pair that with a porous defense (77.4 ppg) and the squad has very little to cling to on any given night. The other only player to average in double figures is Trey Kennedy, who pours in 10.1 ppg, while A.J. Hess (7.9 ppg) has drained 21-of-56 from 3-point range and 22-of-23 from the free-throw line.
The Bengals enjoyed an impressive offensive performance in their most recent contest with Northern Colorado, as they shot a lofty 56.3 percent from the field, which included seven 3-pointers, but they could not keep pace with the Bears, who shot 50 percent from the floor and earned a 24-14 advantage at the free-throw line. Andre Hatchett (25 points) and Tomas Sanchez (21 points, five assist) were both outstanding in spite of defeat, with Hatchett shooting 8- of-13 from the field and 8-of-10 from the stripe while Sanchez drained 4-of-8 from long distance. Jeffrey Solarin and Chris Hansen were also solid with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Although Idaho State has a losing record this season, it is still able to outshoot its opponents from the field, 47.3 percent to 46.3 percent, for a +1.0 scoring margin, while also owning positive margins in rebounding (+2.5) and turnovers (+0.5). It has one of the Big Sky's most impressive scoring trios in Hansen (16.5 ppg), Sanchez (15.7 ppg) and Hatchett (15.1 ppg), while Sanchez hands out 4.9 apg and Hatchett hauls in 6.5 rpg. Solarin (11.1 ppg, 7.8 rpg) is an integral piece of the puzzle as well.
Idaho State's poor overall record aside, it has played well on its home floor, and it shouldn't have much of an issue keeping that success alive against the floundering Thunderbirds.
Game Date and Time