No. 22 Dixie State goes 2-0, Southern Utah basketball splits back-to-back

Dixie State men’s basketball beats St. Martin’s 75-71, St. George, Utah, Nov. 16, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News, File photo

ST. GEORGE — This weekend, Southern Utah University and Dixie State University played two games each. The Thunderbirds split their two games, beating Charleston Southern by 35 then losing to East Tennessee State by 12. The Trailblazers broke into the Division II sports information directors’ top 25 poll and proceeded to beat Lake Superior State and Alaska-Fairbanks by double digits.

SUU men’s basketball

SUU came off two tough losses against BYU and UCLA, but bounced back on Saturday to beat Charleston Southern. Their offensive struggles seemed to go away as the Thunderbirds hit six threes and show just over 50% from the field. They scored 80 points, which was the most they have scored on a Division I opponent all season. John Knight III led the way with 18 points, four rebounds and three assists. The final score was 80-45.

“We wanted to come out and set a tone defensively and the guys did a good job contesting shots and getting back in transition,” head coach Todd Simon said in a release. “I’m proud of the guys for that effort, and offensively they did a great job sharing the ball and finding the open man.”

After getting the much-needed win, the Thunderbirds played on Sunday against East Tennessee State. Their offensive struggles came right back as they lost 70-58 as SUU shot 25% from beyond the arch and 39.7% from the field.

Bethesda at SUU, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 6, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News, File photo

“It’s hard to win on the road in college basketball, and statistically it’s tougher than any other sport, so these road environments are a challenge,” Simon said. “In this three-week span we’ve played in every time zone, played a Big 10 and Pac-12 team, and this team (ETSU) is as good as any of those teams. They’re going to be a major factor, so it was good to see us give everything we had in this stretch and finally get to head home for a game on Friday.”

The one shining light for the Thunderbirds was Dwayne Morgan, who scored a season-high 20 points. The versatile forward had been struggling, scoring 4 points against BYU and 10 points against UCLA, but he came to life against ETSU. He did not play in the Thunderbirds game against Charleston Southern due to injury, but he was able to play on Sunday.

“He’s battling an injury, and he gutted through it,” Simon said. “He just kept persevering and I was proud of his effort.”

SUU returns home for their first home game in over three weeks on Friday against West Coast Baptist college, with the game scheduled to start at noon.

Dixie State men’s basketball

Dixie State men’s basketball loses to Providence (Montana) 80-76, St. George, Utah, Nov. 16, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News, File photo

After hosting the 2019 Dixie State Classic, the Trailblazers traveled north to Salt Lake City for the Westminster classic. They played two games against Lake Superior State and Alaska-Fairbanks.

In the first game of the weekend against Lake Superior State, the Trailblazers won handily. Five players scored double-digit points, with Hunter Schofield leading all scorers with 16 points. Jack Pagenkopf also had a near triple-double, which would have been his second of the season, adding 15 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the winning effort.

On Saturday, Dixie State took on Alaska-Fairbanks and exploded offensively to get the double-digit win, 90-78. The Trailblazers were led by Dason Youngblood, who went 12-17 from the field and scored 27 points in just 23 minutes of action. He scored 19 of his 27 points in the second half and played a big role during Dixie’s 19-1 run halfway through the second. Youngblood’s 27 point night earned him the RMAC men’s basketball offensive player of the week recognition.

Dixie State returns home to Burns Arena on Saturday to open up RMAC conference play against Westminster. That game is scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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