Vancouver, BC – With CIS Athlete of the Week honours, and twice named the Canada West All-Star over the past three weeks, Tommy Nixon has been a fixture at the root of the Thunderbirds success this season. With eight consecutive wins, the UBC men’s basketball team is one of the hottest teams in the Canada West and have been on a mission since a rather forgettable start to the season.
With a weekend series against the University of Calgary Dinos on the docket, the UBC Thunderbirds men’s basketball team has a chance to take another step forward, as they welcome the division’s top team to town.
With the team performing as well as they have as of late, Nixon remains the centerpiece on a team that has defined resiliency and strong chemistry, with a 9-5 record to show for it. Over the past six games Nixon has averaged 27.3 points per game, which has catapulted him into first in Canada West scoring (fifth in the CIS), with 21.2 points per game.
“Individually it’s great to be recognized, especially on the national stage, but at the same time I’m trying to focus on our team goals and what we need to work on moving forward,” said Nixon. “At the end of the year, I’d rather have a championship banner than achieve individual benchmarks.”
Nixon is coming off his best weekend of the season, combining for a rather silly 72 points over a two-game span against Trinity Western, acting as the catalyst to his team’s 100-point performances. Now with four of UBC’s past eight games resulting in triple digit offensive outputs, the team is averaging 88.2 points on the season, good for sixth in the nation. The only other team in Canada with more 100-point performances is the No. 1 ranked Ottawa Gee-Gees (5).
“We’ve been great on the offensive side of things lately putting up some strong point totals,” added Nixon. “With the starting five we have, and our secondary scoring, the amount of weapons we have will make the approach tough for opposing teams.”
However, among the six-highest scoring CIS teams, UBC concedes the most points by a considerable margin, and sit third-last in the Pioneer Division in that department.
Nixon acknowledged that relying solely on offense can only take a team so far, and thus the team can’t become overly comfortable, as there’s bound to be offensive struggles at some point down the road.
Having gone through early season hardship together, the team chemistry has grown that much stronger, tied in with the fact that much of the team is homegrown talent, having played alongside each other for several years.
“Much of the success on an individual level can be attributed to the chemistry on the team and a sense of urgency with it being my final year of eligibility,” noted Nixon. “The mental and physical aspects are there too, an area I worked on during the offseason and during the holiday break.”
If Nixon can maintain his current scoring pace, not only will it be key for the team’s playoff positioning, he will join some elite company in the UBC scoring record books. Nixon has already put himself among the best, as his 45-point performance on the weekend was the third highest single-game point total in program history. Interestingly, no UBC player has finished in the top-five in league scoring since the 2006-2007 season, a feat accomplished by former Thunderbird standout Casey Archibald.
With Nixon playing as well as he has down the stretch, that success has diffused to his supporting cast. In the team’s most recent outing against TWU, all five starters scored 10+ points including a season-high 20 points from Jordan Jensen-Whyte.
Though the Dinos have the division’s best record, they see No. 7 ranked Victoria and No. 6 Saskatchewan ranked ahead of them, despite having an impressive 11-4 record. Much like Nixon has been to the Thunderbirds, the same can be said for Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson and the Calgary Dinos.
Ogungbemi-Jackson has been the cornerstone to the Calgary program, sit third on the Dinos all-time scoring list, as well as the program leader in minutes played and steals. The fifth-year point guard currently sits second in Canada West scoring averaging 20.2 points per game, second only to Nixon.
War Memorial Gym plays host to game one Friday night at 8 p.m., followed by a 7 p.m. rematch Saturday. Live streaming can be found at Canadawest.tv.