ST. GEORGE – Every once in awhile a team gives its fans reasons to be excited for an upcoming season. Every once in awhile a team leaves its fans scratching their heads. And every once awhile a team does both.
The Dixie State College men’s basketball team (7-4, 3-1) had southern Utah basketball fans buzzing in November after nearly knocking off UNLV at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas. The Red Storm forced overtime and led by seven points with just a few minutes to play, but couldn’t hold the lead as UNLV scored the final eight points to win 81-80. It didn’t seem like much at the time because the Red Storm were on the heels of a monumental game, but after similar performances against similar-caliber teams it became apparent the team had some trouble closing out close games.
Of the four Red Storm losses, only one has been by more than 10 points. However, Dixie State did blow a 14-point second-half lead in that particular loss to Colorado Mesa University. Add in the fact that six of DSC’s seven wins have been by nine points or more and it’s obvious that the Red Storm struggle down the stretch in close games.
“I don’t know what it is,” head coach Jon Judkins said. “It’s something we have to go through as a team. We’ve just got to have that killer instinct that you need to finish games. All the players want to win. They don’t want to make mistakes, but things happen. We’re trying everything we can to fix it.”
Despite the close-game struggles, the Red Storm are poised to make another run at a conference title and an appearance in the national tournament. Winners of four of its last six games, Dixie State is getting double-figure scoring from four players. Dalton Groskreutz, Zach Robbins, Steven Larson and McKay Massey are each averaging 12 points per game.
The Red Storm wrap up their non-conference schedule on Wednesday against Pacifica University, then travel to California Baptist University to resume conference on Saturday.
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