When the schedule came out, it was clear that North Dakota and Southern Utah were going to challenge themselves in non-conference play. It wouldn't have been fair to expect a victory in the openers, but it turned out that both teams were on the wrong end of blowouts.
North Dakota traveled to take on a very solid Kansas State team, and just seemed to run out of gas in the second half of play. UND had the lead down to 26-25 at the seven minute mark of the first half, but it was all KState from there. The Wildcats closed the half on a 10-2 run to lead 36-27, and then outscored UND 49-25 in the second half, sealing the 85-52 win.
UND struggled with turnovers, giving the ball away 19 times while also shooting just 30% from the floor. Troy Huff was the only guy in double figures with 12 points, but it did take 15 shots to get there. On the glass, the Wildcats pulled down 18 offensive rebounds, and outrebounded UND 48-35. There is no shame in losing to Kansas State in Manhattan, but I am guessing Brian Jones was hoping to keep things a little tighter.
The other newcomer, Southern Utah, traveled to Gonzaga for their season opener, also showing that they would not be afraid to challenge themselves.
The Thunderbirds got a great game from Jackson Stevenett, who had a career-high 29 points on 11/15 from the floor, but SUU just struggled to get stops in this game. The score was 44-27 at the half, and by the first TV timeout, it was 62-31.
The final score was 103-65, as SUU did shoot a stellar 49% from the floor. Unfortunately, Gonzaga shot 55% and got 18 more shots, thanks to a whopping 28 Thunderbird turnovers. Gonzaga is going to do that to some people, but PG Damon Heuir (2 assists, 8 turnovers) simply has to play better.
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