ST. GEORGE — On Monday morning, Dixie State University and Southern Utah University men’s basketball announced a three-game series that will start on Nov. 18, at the America First Events Center in Cedar City.
The two teams are then set to play in the 2021-22 seasons with one game being played in St. George and another in Cedar City.
Their meeting in 2020 will mark the first time the two teams have played each other since the 1962-63 season. Both schools were junior colleges at the time and now they will both meet as Division I programs.
“When we finally made the choice to go Division II, thought, ‘OK, this would be a great opportunity to start this back up,'” Dixie State head coach Jon Judkins said. “We’ve been calling them every year, this year we called them and they accepted it. It’s a good idea and Coach Simon thought it’d be a good idea as well, so we signed that contract for the next three seasons. It’s going to be great for the community and it’s going to be great for everybody.”
In terms of where the in-state rivalry ranks in the state of Utah, Judkins said it will take some time, but he thinks it could grow down the road.
“I don’t think it’s going to be any kind of BYU rivalry yet, but I really do believe it can turn out to be that good,” Judkins said.
Another thing this rivalry will likely bring is a packed gym. The Thunderbirds had big turnouts for games against UC Santa Barbara and in-state rival Utah Valley. SUU head coach Todd Simon hopes to shoot for 5,000 people in attendance at the DSU game in November.
“We broke the student attendance record three times last season so the interest is up and, I think people are appreciating the brand of basketball and the quality of our group as we continue to grow,” Simon said. “To have another regional rivalry like that, I’d love to get that thing packed and have a wonderful evening on Nov. 18 with a fun environment.”
The rivalry won’t just end on the hardwood though, as both teams will likely be recruiting some of the same in-state players as well. The two schools are also set to meet on the football field to open the 2020 season with a game at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City.
The dates for the basketball games in the 2021 and 2022 seasons have yet to be finalized.
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