From SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
CEDAR CITY–The Thunderbird men’s basketball team picked up a 85-68 victory on Tuesday night in the America First Event Center, as they defeated the Benedictine at Mesa Redhawks with hot three-point shooting from their senior leader.
The first three baskets of the game came off the hand of James McGee, and all of them were from behind the three-point line propelling the T-Birds to a quick start offensively. Jadon Cohee quickly got in on the act, as he knocked down a triple to keep SUU’s three-point streak to start the game alive. The first 12 points SUU scored came off three point buckets. The Redhawks kept it close, however, as the score sat at 16-11 at the first media timeout.
McGee said it was vital to get the first couple baskets to go down, and getting started fast is something the Thunderbirds will have to work on moving forward.
“Last game I came out slow, I think I airballed my first two, but as a team we have a real problem with coming out hot, so it’s important,” he said.
After the first five minutes, the Redhawks used red hot shooting to hold a lead for the following 10 minutes. With under eight minutes to play Benedictine was still shooting over 60 percent from the field.
Down the stretch of the opening half Dre Marin was able to get going offensively. He dropped in 12 points in the opening 20 minutes to keep the T-Birds ahead of the Redhawks down the stretch of the opening frame. The T-Birds held a 43-39 lead at the break.
McGee had 14 at the break to lead the T-Birds.
The Thunderbirds were able to keep the Redhawks at arms length for the majority of the second half.
“In the first 11 minutes it wasn’t acceptable what we were doing defensively,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “Coming out and scoring all those points early I think we thought we could trade baskets, and we’ve got to do a better job respecting and getting the stops we need and dialing in on that.”
McGee finished with 25 points and shot 6-of-6 from behind the three-point line. That performance moved him into the No. 9 spot in the Big Sky Conference in the three-point makes category.
“He really brought it,” Simon said. “We came out a little flat in a few positions, but from the get go he was dialed in on both ends of the floor.”
Jamal Aytes finished with a double-double, scoring 19 points and pulling in 15 boards.
Next up for the Thunderbirds will be a trip to Las Vegas to take on the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. That contest at the Thomas & Mack Center is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. MT.