Thunderbirds hope to turn fortunes on home court against Saskatchewan

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Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team returns home for a weekend series against the Saskatchewan Huskies after a two-week road trip. Sporting an overall record of 1-5, the Thunderbirds will look to upset the No. 7-ranked Huskies, who are coming off a sweep of the Victoria Vikes, in the final two games of the 2014 calendar year.

With the pair of victories this past weekend Saskatchewan handed the Vikes its first losses of the season after going 4-0 to start the season. The Huskies are victors of three straight and beat the Vikes by a combined margin of 27 points over the two-game span. The sweep helped the Huskies leapfrog the Vikes in the CIS national rankings, in the process becoming the top-ranked Canada West team, despite only sitting in fourth in the Canada West Pioneers Division.

Though the Thunderbirds are experiencing a rocky start to the season, the team has faced some of the division’s stiffest competition through the first five weeks of the season. UBC’s previous three opponents have a combined record of 13-7, falling victim to a pair of sweeps by the Winnipeg Wesmen and Victoria Vikes. Facing a pair of 1-7 teams in the first three weeks of the 2015 portion of the season, the T-Birds can right the ship after winning just one of its first six games to start the 2014 season, especially with a sweep or split this weekend against the Huskies.

The Thunderbirds have the Huskies number in recent years, having won five straight, including regular season and the post-season, against the Huskies dating back to the 2010-2011 season. The Thunderbirds haven’t dropped a game against Saskatchewan since October 23, 2010.

The real kicker for UBC this past weekend was the turnovers, committing 18 in each of the two games. If the Thunderbirds are able to protect the ball, this weekend could spark a turnaround. Despite what their record might say, UBC has had a chance to win in the latter stages of nearly every game. In four of the team’s five losses this season, the T-Birds have held the losing deficit to 10 points or less.

On paper, the Huskies and T-Birds are quite similar excluding the win-loss category, as the Huskies have averaged 75.0 points per game versus UBC scoring 73.2 per game. UBC has a 45.1% shooting percentage from the field, a slight edge over Saskatchewan’s 43.4% numbers.

Individually, UBC’s Tommy Nixon has averaged 16.3 points per game through the first six games, complimented by 4.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Brylle Kamen, the 6’7 Paris, France native, is coming off his first double double of the season, putting up a season high 21 points to go along with 11 boards, in a 77-67 loss to the Wesmen. Kamen is also averaging 58.3% shooting from the field, good for fifth in the Canada West.

Just nipping Kamen in that department is Saskatchewan’s Evan Ostertag who is averaging 60.4% shooting and 54.5% accuracy from beyond the arc, third in the Canada West in each of the two categories. The fourth-year guard is averaging 12.5 points per game.  Dadrian Collins leads the team with 14.3 ppg while Matthew Forbes is averaging nearly a double double per game with 10.5 points per game and to go along with 8.2 boards. Collins is coming off a 28-point performance against the Vikes on Saturday, where the forward was a flawless 8-for-8 from three-point range.

The first game is set for Friday night at 8 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. game on Saturday night, both at War Memorial Gym.

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