GAME NOTES: One of four teams tied for second place in the Big Sky Conference standings, the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks head to the Stott Center tonight where they will contend with the Portland State Vikings.
Trailing Weber State in the Big Sky, NAU is locked in with Northern Colorado, Montana and North Dakota at 7-5 in conference play heading into action tonight. The 'Jacks have won two of their last three outings, although the latest victory came by just seven points (64-57) last Saturday against a Southern Utah squad that has lost every game since the season opener.
Meanwhile, the Vikings were out on the road last week playing both conference foes from the Treasure State and came out on the wrong side of an 82-76 overtime affair versus Montana, and then suffered a 69-64 setback against Montana State. As a result, PSU is now 6-6 in conference play.
The Vikings lead the all-time series by a count of 22-19, although NAU won the first encounter of the season last month with a 77-56 triumph in Flagstaff.
Southern Utah, which hasn't defeated a Division I opponent in nearly a year, certainly made things interesting last Saturday as it pushed NAU to the brink before backing off. Quinton Upshur posted a game-high 20 points for the hosts, followed by Aaseem Dixon and Max Jacobsen with 16 and 11 points, respectively. Gaellan Bewernick responded with a game-high 12 rebounds, as the home team generated a 35-26 advantage on the glass.
During conference play Upshur is pouring in 17.3 ppg to pace the Lumberjacks, hitting on not only 57.5 percent of his field goal chances but also an astounding 52.4 percent behind the 3-point line as well. Dixon accounts for another 14.1 ppg, followed by Jacobsen (12.3 ppg), the former converting a total of 21 3-pointers which means he and Upshur are responsible for 54 of the unit's 69 triples in 12 league bouts.
The Vikings played Montana State even through the first 20 minutes, but then the visitors fell off the pace with just 36.4 percent shooting from the floor, including 2-of-11 beyond the arc, en route to the loss. Gary Winston led four starters in double figures with 14 points, Marcus Hall and DaShaun Wiggins each tallied a dozen, and Kyle Richardson registered a double-double consisting of 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Tim Douglas, who leads the program in scoring this season with 13.1, was a non-factor versus Montana State as he made just one of his nine field goal attempts and finished with four points in 33 minutes of action. Following Douglas in the scoring department are Wiggins (12.5 ppg) and Gary Winston (10.2 ppg), as the group generates 72.7 ppg, but is cutting it rather close by giving up 71.7 ppg.
Northern Arizona hasn't been all that great on the road this season, but with Upshur the squad definitely has a fighting chance tonight given how important this meeting is for the 'Jacks.
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