From SUU ATHLETICS STRATEGIC COMMUNICATION
CEDAR CITY, Utah – The Thunderbird men’s basketball team is taking their 5-3 record on the road this weekend, as they’ll be in East Lansing, Michigan, to take on the No. 3 Michigan State Spartans.
The Thunderbirds stayed undefeated at home on Wednesday night as they topped the 49ers of Long Beach State 94-89. Brandon Better dropped in a career-high 26 points in the contest, shooting 8-of-13 from the field and finishing 7-of-7 from the free throw line.
Jadon Cohee also had a career night for the Thunderbirds, finishing with 25 points and five assists. He was 9-of-15 from the field and 3-of-5 from behind the three-point line.
Christian Musoko finished with 14, including a huge play down the stretch as he threw down a big lob from Cohee to help separate the T-Birds from the 49ers. He finished with a double-double, pulling in 10 rebounds. Jamal Aytes (12) and Jacob Calloway (10) both finished in double figures for SUU.
Both Better and Cohee had gigantic nights for the Thunderbirds, and both had career highs in points. To this point of the season, Cohee is averaging 18 points per game. He’s also dished out 31 assists, which leads the team by more than 10.
Coming off the bench the majority of the time, Better is averaging 14 ppg for the Thunderbirds. He leads the team in three pointers made, as he’s knocked down 20 so far this season. Better and Cohee are both shooting over 40 percent to this point of the season.
Opponent Preview: #3 Michigan State Spartans
Tabbed as the No. 3 team in the country this week, the Spartans of Michigan State have had a stellar start to their non-conference season. Currently they sit with a 8-1 record, with their lone loss coming on November 14 against the Duke Blue Devils.
Sophomore standout Miles Bridges has been one of the go-to guys for Michigan State to this point. He’s leading the Spartans in scoring so far this season, averaging 15.4 points per game. Bridges garnered several accolades before the season even started, as he was tabbed as the NBC Sports Preseason Player of the Year and a consensus member of the Preseason All-Big Ten Team.
Fellow sophomore guard Joshua Langford is second on the team in scoring, averaging 13.6 ppg. Nick Ward (13.3), Cassius Winston (12.4) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (10.1) all average double figures for MSU. Jackson Jr. leads the team in rebounding with 7.2 rpg.
Legendary head coach Tom Izzo is in his 23rd year with Michigan State. Izzo was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016, and has claimed a National Championship, seven Final Four appearances and eight National Coach of the Year awards.
Words From Coach Simon
On what has led to the team’s success as of late…
“We want to have so many options out there, and you’re going to have to guard all five guys for us this year, and guys move the ball and they share,” SUU head coach Todd Simon said. “I think one of our biggest strengths is our chemistry. This group gets along off the floor so well, on the floor they share the ball and they make the right play.”
On where the confidence of the team has come from…
“I think it’s the preparation,” he said. “We put these guys through a grueling deal, and I think confidence comes from your preparation, and our guys believe that they prepare as well as anybody and they’ve put the time in. So we they go into these games they believe there’s an expectation to win.”
On gearing up for Michigan State…
“It’s four minutes at a time,” he said. “We’ve got to stay within our process, execute our game plan and let the chips fall where they may.”
Start time on Saturday is set for 6 p.m. Eastern Time, 4 p.m. Mountain. The game will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network. Live stats will be available on both www.msuspartans.com and www.suutbirds.com All games will be available over the airwaves locally on KSUB 590 AM with legendary Thunderbird athletics broadcaster Art Challis on the call.