Utah Tech has a big one tonight at home. Listen to our interview with Jon Judkins above and below is the press release and all the details from UT Athletics Media Relations.

Who | Utah Tech (6-9, 2-2 WAC) vs Stephen F. Austin (10-5, 3-1 WAC)

When | Thursday, Jan. 11 / 7 p.m.

Where | Burns Arena / St. George, Utah

Scouting SFA

Thursday's game will be the fourth matchup between Utah Tech and Stephen F. Austin, a series that the Lumberjacks hold a 2-1 advantage in. UT earned its first postseason win the last time these teams played, however, as the Trailblazers downed SFA in overtime in the first round of the 2023 Hercules Tires WAC Men's Basketball Tournament.

This year, the 'Jacks are off to a strong start, posting a 3-1 conference record and 10-5 overall that includes five-consecutive victories. With a scoring margin of plus-10.4, SFA's offense has been fueled by a balanced attack, as the team's leading scorer, Sadaidriene Hall, is averaging just 10.3 points per game; Hall also leads the team's rebounding attack with 5.1 per game.

A Close One

Utah Tech played the No. 1 ranked team in the WAC on Saturday, falling by 10 to the Grand Canyon Lopes at Burns Arena. The Trailblazers opened the game up fast, taking an early lead that grew to as much as 16 thanks to a 19-2 run midway through the first half. GCU would battle back, though UT held a 10-point lead at the break. The visitors used a 17-4 run early in the second half to come right back before their offense took over to ride out the 75-65 result. Noa Gonsalves and Beon Riley both finished in double-figures as UT led for some 25 minutes of game time, which was one of the positives Head Coach Jon Judkins talked about postgame.

 "I thought our rebounding was excellent, we out-rebounded them which is something we preach nonstop," Judkins said. "We had these guys, had them on the ropes, so I know we can play with anybody."

Clean The Glass

As Coach alluded to, UT held a commanding advantage on the glass, out-rebounding GCU 39-27, which included 12 offensive rebounds that helped fuel 13 second chance points.

Saturday's rebound advantage marked the fourth time this season in which the Trailblazers have won the rebounding battle; UT has posted a 2-2 record in those games with wins over Utah Valley (+12) and FIU (+24) and losses against Youngstown State (+12) and GCU (+12).

Noa G... for three!

Noa Gonsalves came within five points of his career high against GCU, finishing the game with 19 points on 6-11 shooting (4-8 3PT). After a slow start to the season the Lehi, Utah, native has started to find his stroke from deep, connecting on two or more triples in six of his last seven appearances, which included a program-record seven in last week's 96-92 victory over Florida International.

For the season, Gonsalves is up to 11.4 points per game while shooting 45.6% from the field, 38.3% from deep and 94.1% at the line.

Big Time Beon

Second to Gonsalves on the team's scoring totals against GCU, Beon Riley finished with 16 points (6-8 FG, 1-1 3PT, 3-3 FT) to go along with seven rebounds, one assist and two steals. Riley has scored in double-figures in all four contests against WAC opponents this season, even pouring in a career-high 21 in a victory over California Baptist on Dec. 6.

In his first season as a Trailblazer, the Chula Vista, Calif., native has averaged 10.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game while shooting 48.5% from the field, 50.0% from deep and 82.0% at the line.

Double-Double Threat

The team's leading rebounder against Grand Canyon, Jaylen Searles finished Saturday's game with nine points and nine rebounds, improving his season averages to 8.5 points and 5.1 rebounds per game. With 13 starts across 15 appearances and an average of 29.4 minutes per game, Searles has posted five games with seven or more rebounds this year, including a season-high 10 in UT's victory over Utah Valley on Dec. 2.

Playing Time

Just three games after making his first start of the season against Colorado, Hamed Olayinka played a key role of the Utah Tech bench on Saturday, playing 20:37 to set a new season-high mark against a WAC opponent. The 6-9 Olayinka finished with seven points, four rebounds and one block on a perfect 3-3 shooting, improving his season averages to 4.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

A Little Bit of Everything

Despite struggling to find his shot, David Elliott still found ways to impact the game against GCU, finishing with a season-high six assists while tying a season-high mark for rebounds with six. He did connect on one shot from deep in the second half to extend his streak of consecutive appearances with a made three-pointer to eight, and is now shooting 45.2% from beyond the arc this season.

Not Today

Tanner Christensen's improved shot blocking showed itself once again on Saturday, as Utah Tech's 6-10 big man swatted three Lope shots, including an emphatic spike late in the second half that bounced its way into the second row of seats. The team's leader in scoring (11.7), rebounding (6.7) and blocked shots (1.8), Christensen has swatted three or more shots in five of his last six appearances and has three games this season with at least four.

Staying In-State

With just one matchup this week, Coach Judkins' Trailblazers will remain in Utah for the next two games, heading north to face Southern Utah (Jan. 18, 6:30 p.m.) and Utah Valley (Jan. 20, 2 p.m.).

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