Offensive struggles continue for Southern Utah in 76-61 loss against UCLA

ST. GEORGE — Southern Utah has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country. It started with a double-overtime win over the Big 10’s Nebraska, a tough loss to BYU and now another loss to UCLA. The biggest theme for the Thunderbirds over the last two games has been their struggles offensively.

Bethesda at SUU, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 6, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News

SUU was down 23-6 to the Bruins at the first media timeout. They were able to make it a game, staying within reach of the Bruins early in the second half but UCLA was able to hold on to get the win.

“We just dug ourselves in a deep hole to start,” Thunderbird head coach Todd Simon said in a release. “Obviously with turnovers, coughing balls up and we were really, really sloppy for the first eight minutes. When you start that poorly, you’re always kind of playing from behind, and we’ve got to be better than that. But we’ll rectify it. And we’ve got to shoot it better. I think we’ve seen some fatigue, a little road weariness is catching up to us a little bit. We were a smidge slow with a little less ball pressure than we normally have, and we’ll continue to get better at that.”

In SUU’s loss to BYU, the team went 0-12 from three-point range and the team had trouble on offense, only scoring 63 points. They matched up well against BYU. Their athleticism and length played a huge part in causing turnovers and scoring around the basket. Those same matchups did not fare as well against a similarly athletic and lengthy team like the Bruins.

The Bruins finished the game with 1o blocks on the night. The Thunderbirds were not able to score around the rim as easily as they did against the Cougars. Add this to a poor shooting night, 5-19 from three (26.3%) and 20-56 from the field (35.7), and you will not be able to get a win on the road against a Power 5 conference team.

The UCLA defense was also very active in their full-court pressure as well, causing 17 turnovers and converting on them. The Bruins outscored the Thunderbirds 18 to 11 on points off turnovers. SUU also lost the rebounding battle, allowing 13 offensive rebounds that resulted in 12 second chance points.

The Thunderbirds continue their long road trip, as they travel to Tennessee to play Charleston Southern on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. MT. SUU will then play again on Sunday in Tennessee before returning home to play West Coast Baptist College on Black Friday.

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