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January 6, 2012

Men’s Basketball Looks to Bounce Back at Eastern Washington

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – After a tough loss at Portland State that produced few defensive stops and a tough night taking care of the basketball against the Viking press, the Northern Arizona men's basketball team will look to reverse its fortunes in Washington against the Eastern Washington Eagles. Tipoff Saturday is 7:05 p.m. Arizona time from Cheney, Wash.

The Lumberjacks are last in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 49.5 percent but face an Eagle team that is the worst shooting team in the league at 41.1 percent. The Eagles are coming off a 76-69 loss to Big Sky leader Weber State and enter the game with a 7-8 overall record and 1-2 mark in Big Sky play.

Eastern Washington is averaging 72.5 points per game, average 7.4 steals per game and boast the best turnover margin in the conference. Junior Collin Chiverton is scoring 16.2 points per game, third-best in the Big Sky, while teammate Cliff Coliman is fourth overall in scoring at 15.3 points per game.

Junior Michael Dunn is coming off career-high 16 points at Portland State. He went 5-for-7 from the field with two three-pointers and was 4-for-4 at the line. The Chandler, Ariz. native had scored just 19 points over previous seven games.

Junior guard Gabe Rogers scored 29 points against Eastern Washington last season in Flagstaff, the second-best single-game scoring performance of his career. He made 3-for-3 beyond the arc and 6-for-6 from the line. He has scored in double figures in three straight Big Sky games since his return but is shooting just 30.8 percent from the field and 33.3 percent beyond the arc.

NAU leads the all-time series 34-22 but has won just 12 of 27 meetings in Cheney. The two schools split two meetings last season and the home team has won six of the last seven in the series. The Lumberjacks defeated the Eagles 83-74 last season in Flagstaff but dropped a 72-59 decision in Cheney. Overall, NAU has won eight of the last 10 in the series.

The Lumberjacks look for the return of Interim Head Coach Dave Brown, who was sidelined Thursday with the flu and remained at the team hotel.

NAU shot just 41.4 percent from the field at Portland State, while the Vikings hit 62 percent behind a 70 percent mark in the second half. The Lumberjacks had 23 turnovers in the game, including 13 in the second half that were converted into 12 Viking points.

The game can be heard on the Lumberjack Radio Network on 105.1 FM The Big Talker in Flagstaff, Prescott and Sedona and online via The Big Talker website and their free Big Talker mobile app for Droids, Blackberries, iPhones and iPads. It will also be available online via Big Sky TV.