Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team will visit the Trinity Western Spartans this weekend for a pair of games against their lower mainland rivals. The T-Birds are undefeated in 2015 and continue to make a push for the playoffs, while Trinity Western looks for just its second win against UBC since the 2009-2010 season.
Remember those early season woes that plagued UBC? Neither do the Thunderbirds as the team has ripped off six straight victories to move into fifth in the Pioneer Division, sandwiched between three teams in which UBC has at least a game-in-hand on. The T-Birds current streak is the longest active win streak within the division, helping improve their record to 7-5.
The Thunderbirds started off their current run with a weekend sweep of Saskatchewan, followed by wins over Lethbridge and Brandon, alternating home and away series. UBC has scored 91+ points in each game during that stretch, including a pair of triple digit offensive outputs. On the defensive side, UBC has limited their opponents to 82 or fewer points in four of those six games.
The 1-11 Spartans are looking to rebound from a weekend sweep at the hands of the Regina Cougars, and are the midst of a five game losing streak. Prior to the team’s bye week, Regina exacted some revenge against the Spartans, as the Cougars hadn’t beaten TWU in Langley since Nov. 20, 1999. Trinity Western’s lone season win came against the Brandon Bobcats on November 21.
The Thunderbirds are fresh off a clean sweep of those very Bobcats, winning 97-82 and 107-76 at home this past weekend. The latter result being the highest offensive numbers the T-Birds have put up this season as it comes at a crucial time of year where teams are making their playoff push. UBC’s fifth place occupation has them currently in the playoff hunt, two places ahead of the final playoff position with eight games remaining.
UBC has had the Spartans number over the years compiling a 8-1 record against their neighborly opponents since the 2009 season. However, the Spartans defeated the Thunderbirds 77-63 in their most recent meeting on Nov. 9, 2013.
Just as Tommy Nixon emphasized last weekend, the team can’t afford to take any division rival lightly as many of the non-playoff teams have nothing to lose, and look to play spoiler. Nixon has averaged 22 points per game over his previous four games, including a career high 36-point performance (which earned him CIS Athlete of the Week honours), helping improved his season average to 18.8 points per game. Nixon also has a pair of double doubles over his past four games.
UBC’s Conor Morgan is the next-leading UBC scorer, averaging 12.2 points per game, while his 4.4 rebounds per game are fourth to Nixon (6.4), Tonner Jackson and Brylle Kamen (both 5.2).
Fifth-year guard Justin Bakuteka is having a career season for the Spartans, scoring 16.4 points per game, including a 35-point performance two weekends ago. Overall, Bakuteka is averaging career-highs in points, shooting percentage, three-point shooting, and minutes as his Canada West statistics are getting a favorable makeover this season.
Meanwhile, Taylor Heinrichs leads the team in rebounds per game (5.8) while Tyus Allen has been dishing out the assists at a team-leading rate of 4.5 per game. The team, as a whole, has been averaging 75.3 points per game but have been allowing, on average, 89.9 points per game.
Friday’s game will tipoff at 8 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. game Saturday, both games played at the Langley Events Centre (LEC).