SUU men’s basketball to play Kansas in 2020-21 season

Montana at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 2, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

ST. GEORGE — As Todd Simon listed out some of the opponents the SUU men’s basketball team has played during his tenure as head coach, names like Michigan State, USC, UCLA, Oregon State and Nebraska all came to mind. When looking at college basketball there have not been many consistently great programs, but the Kansas Jayhawks are one of them. SUU announced on Thursday that they will be traveling to Lawrence, Kansas to play at Allen Fieldhouse on Nov. 13, 2020.

Maizen Fausett of SUU makes a breakaway dunk, with 4:19 left, putting the T-Birds ahead 45-43. Montana State at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 4, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“It’s hard to get much more historic then Phog Allen and Kansas but hey, that’s part of what makes college basketball fun,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “We’re going to try and compete against the best and go out there and compete every day.”

The Jayhawks finished their regular season as the best team in the Big 12 and have been so for most of the last 20 years. They had won 14 straight Big 12 regular season championships before finishing third in the 2018-19 season. They came back this season and finished atop the Big 12 in the regular season while finishing as the top team in the country according to the final AP college basketball ranking.

As for the history behind Allen Fieldhouse and Kansas, the program’s first coach was Dr. James Naismith, the inventor of the game of basketball. The original rules that he created for the game in 1891 are housed in the Allen Fieldhouse as well.

John Knight III of SUU brings the ball upcourt, Montana State at Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah, Jan. 4, 2020 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Since then players such as Wilt Chamberlin, Paul Pierce, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid have played for the historic college program.

When asked about playing in an environment like Allen Fieldhouse against a team like Kansas, Simon said that it will be a memory one way or another. SUU values the college basketball experience and Simon said it is something that is important for their student-athletes.

“If you can’t get motivated to play big games then you don’t have a pulse in this thing,” Simon said. “I think it’s going to be a good experience for everybody to see the history there.”

Big-name games like Kansas also look good on the recruiting trail. The Thunderbirds played on the road against BYU, UCLA and Nebraska last season. While they did lose at UCLA and BYU, they got one of the biggest wins in program history against the Big Ten’s Nebraska.

Simon talked about how the scheduling helps in recruitment and getting some exposure around the program.

“The real competitors want that, and I think that’s important,” Simon said. “We’re kind of a program that’s been on the rise and we’re trying to get exposure at all corners of the country and our scheduling has kind of reflected that. That’s part of our mission here, continue to expose what we’re doing and make people want to be apart of it.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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