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Tevian Jones and Southern Utah used a big second half to knock off Utah Valley on Thursday night in Cedar City.

Electric Atmosphere Leads T-Birds to Win over Utah Valley

It is not often that schools in the WAC not named Grand Canyon, fill their arenas and create an atmosphere worth talking about.

At least, not a consistent atmosphere worth talking about.

However, Thursday night at the America First Events Center, the atmosphere was a key player in helping Southern Utah pick up a big win over in-state foe Utah Valley.

“What a showing by the community and the students,” Southern Utah head coach Todd Simon said. “To have that packed arena … it was loud and carried us through and it really impacted the game.”

The student section started filling in two hours before tip. Two hours.

Student leaders, standing in front of the section, helping the other students learn the cheers, learn the chants, and making everyone understand the job they were tasked to do.

It is not often that the AFEC has every seat filled. Or even close to every seat filled. Nor is it too often that the students completely take up two and a half sections for a ball game.

But, in they came. Cheerleaders and student leaders greeted every fan through the open doors to the arena.

One step, two step, find a seat.

And with 20 minutes left until tip, two whole sections were filled with black and red. Students yelling. The band playing.

It was game on at the AFEC.

And when the Utah Valley fans walked through the doors after a 3-hour bus ride, they were nearly booed back to Orem.

Thursday night, the AFEC experienced an electric atmosphere. And the fans in that electric atmosphere got to see a rather good show.

Problem was that show did not get off to a good start.

Utah Valley’s Tim Fuller hit a pair of floaters in the lane. Aziz Bandaogo got whatever he wanted off the pick-and-roll, including his usual reverse alley-oop jam.

And with 1:54 to play in the first half, the AFEC was quiet. Blaze Nield’s layup had pushed Utah Valley’s lead to 10. And the Wolverines were doing it with Trey Woodbury and Tim Fuller having spent the majority of the first half on the bench with foul trouble.

At that point, color analyst Parker Haynie made the call of the night on the broadcast.

“If you’re SUU, you want to get it under 10, preferably to five before you go to the half.”

Drake Allen and Tevian Jones made Haynie look like a prophet.

In what Todd Simon says many teams don’t do in the NBA or college basketball, the T-Birds went for a 2-for-1 opportunity. It is something Southern Utah thrives for.

Drake Allen hit a driving layup with 43 seconds left in the half.

And after an Aziz Bandaogo miss, the ball found its way into the hands of Tevian Jones.

And with a collective gasp from the great atmosphere inside America First Events Center, Tevian Jones did what Tevian Jones does.

Knock down a 3-pointer with a hand in his face.

All of a sudden it was a 5-point ball game, the student section is going nuts, and SUU gets the ball out of the halftime locker room.

And out of the halftime break, the atmosphere got wild. That’s because for the first three minutes and change of the second half, the game got wild.

Maizen Fausett got things started with a layup. Then it was Le’Tre Darthard on the other end with a layup. Jason Spurgin answered right back with a bucket. And then Tim Fuller got in on the action with a basket. Harrison Butler responded right back with a basket.

Justin Harmon’s layup with 18:03 to play gave Utah Valley a 45-40 lead. And after a Maizen Fausett 3-pointer to tie the game at 45, Justin Harmon hit another bucket to give the Wolverines the lead right back.

And after Trey Woodbury grabbed his own miss and scored on the putback to give Utah Valley a 49-45 lead with just over 15 minutes remaining, the atmosphere in America First Events Center was a little on edge.

During the under 16 media timeout, there was an audible chatter around the arena.

Utah Valley had won seven straight road games. Southern Utah was fresh off a loss at Seattle U and Tevian Jones had just one 3-pointer to that point in the ball game.

But, whatever was said in that Southern Utah huddle during that media timeout, it changed the atmosphere inside the America First Events Center.

Tevian Jones and the T-Birds got rolling on both ends of the floor.

Jones hit a pair of free throws and Drake Allen scored on a driving layup to tie things at 49.

Justin Harmon gave Utah Valley its final lead of the game with a 3-point play with 13:08 to play.

But from that point, it was all T-Birds.

A little 5-0 Drake Allen scoring run gave the T-Birds a 61-54 lead.

And Allen’s layup with 6:10 to play made it an 11-point lead.

SUU fans were electrified. The atmosphere inside the AFEC was at a fever pitch. And things just ballooned from there.

Utah Valley couldn’t buy a bucket or an offensive rebound. And Southern Utah just kept extending its lead.

Maizen Fausett’s free throw with 5:07 to play gave SUU its largest lead at 72-57.

Trey Woodbury finally settled things down a bit for Utah Valley with a deep 3-pointer.

But the damage was done.

And when Tevian Jones took a pass on the right wing, saw what looked like an opening to the basket…the crowd got loud…extremely loud.

But when Aziz Bandaogo and Tim Fuller came over to defend what looked like was going to be a one-handed slam, Jones didn’t flinch and put the nail in the coffin.

Jones split Bandaogo and Fuller, hit the layup and the atmosphere inside the AFEC went crazy.

“The lane was open, but they rotated over. So, I had to adjust mid-air. But, you know I kind of work on that,” Jones said with a bit of a chuckle.

Jones had a game-high 20 points as Southern Utah earned a 79-67 win over Utah Valley on Thursday night.

Three other T-Birds were in double figures. Drake Allen finished with 17 points. Maizen Fausett finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. And Harrison Butler had 12 points and nine rebounds.

Justin Harmon had a team-high 16 points for Utah Valley. Aziz Bandaogo finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds. Trey Woodbury and Le’Tre Darthard each had 10 points.


About the author

Kyle McDonald

Love everything about WAC Hoops so decided I wanted to write more about it and cover this amazing conference that just keeps getting better. Follow us on Twitter @wachoopsdigest for information, game analysis and much more.

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