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The T-Birds are flying high into the Big Sky Tournament

Weber State University’s in-state foe, Southern Utah University, has only lost three games this season and boasts the Big Sky’s top scoring offense at just over 85 points per game and is possibly the conference’s best rebounding team. Southern Utah also owns the Big Sky’s top scoring margin, beating its opponents by an average of almost 16 points per game.

The "T-Bird," the mascot for SUU.
The “T-Bird,” the mascot for SUU. (SUU Website)

The Thunderbirds are currently 17–3 overall and 10–2 in conference play, with two games against sixth-place Portland State left to play. This season’s conference and overall records for Southern Utah are vast improvements from last season’s 17–15 overall record and 9–11 conference record.

Southern Utah possesses one of the more active defenses in the Big Sky. The Thunderbirds force nearly 14 turnovers per game and are second in the conference with just over seven steals per game.

Four Thunderbird players average over 12 points per game, led by junior guard Tevian Jones, who scores just over 17 points per game. Jones is one of the best shooters in the Big Sky, with a 3-point shooting percentage of 34%. This is Jones’ first season at Southern Utah after transferring to Cedar City from the University of Illinois, a top-10 ranked program in college basketball.

Junior forward Maizen Fausett is second on the team, scoring at 14.2 points per game. Fausett’s motor and strong build have helped him lead the team in rebounding despite being relatively undersized at 6-foot-6-inches. Fausett was the top scorer each time Weber faced Southern Utah, with an average of 19.5 points in the two games against the Wildcats.

The ‘Cats split their season series against the Thunderbirds, but handed Southern Utah its worst loss of the season when they beat the Thunderbirds by 24 points in Ogden on Jan. 21. Southern Utah did a great job learning from its two conference losses to Weber and Eastern Washington, as it beat both teams the second time facing them.

Southern Utah and Weber State are the only teams in the conference that are still undefeated at their home gyms. The Thunderbirds are 14–0 and the Wildcats are 10–0.

Their ability to improve, strong offense and efficient rebounding effort will make the Thunderbirds a tough out for any team they face in the Big Sky Tournament. If the standings hold as they are currently, barring any unexpected upsets, Weber State will likely have to face off against Southern Utah for a third time in order to get to the championship game of the conference tournament.

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