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January 30, 2011

Big Monday Big Sky Style: Men’s Basketball Hosts Northern Colorado

Game Notes vs. Northern Colorado (PDF)

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - The Northern Arizona men's basketball team plays host to Big Sky leading and undefeated Northern Colorado in a rare Monday game at the Rolle Activity Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. It is the first of three Big Sky games for the Lumberjacks at home including contests against Montana State (Feb. 3) and Montana (Feb. 5).

Northern Colorado (11-7, 7-0 Big Sky) plays at Weber State on Saturday before traveling to Flagstaff.

"The home games are important," said senior guard Cameron Jones. "We have to win all three this week. We can't afford to lose one."

Jones was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award last Wednesday. Entering the weekend, he ranks 20th in the nation in scoring at 20.2 points per game and has scored more than 20 points in four of the last five games, while averaging 26.2 points per game over the last five games. He has shot 54.7 percent (47-of-86) from the field and 80.0 percent (12-of-15) from three-point distance during the stretch.

NAU and Northern Colorado have met 11 previous times with NAU holding a 6-5 edge. The home team had won seven consecutive times in the series before Northern Colorado defeated NAU last season in Flagstaff.

UNC has won two consecutive against the Lumberjacks. The series has produced several close games with the last five games decided by a total of 24 points with three games decided by three or less points.

"These games are very important to us," said Head Coach Mike Adras. "I feel if we are going to make any run at league championship, we have to win these three games."

NAU is tied for fourth in the Big Sky standings at 3-4, trailing Northern Colorado, Montana (7-1) and Montana State (5-3). The Lumberjacks lost at both Montana and Montana State to open league play in early January.

"I am not worrying about three games," said Adras. "I am worrying about Northern Colorado."

Both teams rank among the leaders in Division I in three-point field goal percentage with the Lumberjacks topping the country at 44.7 percent and the Bears seventh overall and second in the Big Sky at 41.5.

"They like the three-pointer and they make more per game than we do," said Adras.  "They rely on them more than we do."

The Bears feature senior guard Devon Beitzel, who has averaged 28 points per game against the Lumberjacks in Flagstaff over the last two seasons. Beitzel joins Jones among the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award.

"It starts with him," said Adras. "He is the guy who has had huge nights scoring for them. But they have several guys that are capable of scoring. He is somebody that you have to know where he is at on the floor. He is quick with getting shots off and he can knock down two or three in a row just like that."

The game is live on Fox Sports Arizona (Direct TV 686, Dish Network 415), Fox College Sports Pacific (Direct TV 617) and Universityhouse (Dish Network 9411). Mitch Strohman and Dave Brown will call the action from the Rolle Activity Center. Fans can also listen to the game on 105.1 FM The Big Talker and on the internet at www.bigtalkerradio.com.