Dixie State takes massive win streak into Friday’s NCAA West Regional

Trevor Hill (right), file photo from Dixie State University vs. Holy Names University, Men's Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 19, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

MONMOUTH, Ore. – Pacific West Conference regular season and tournament champion Dixie State (23-6) heads to the Northwest to play in the 2018 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament West Regional, which will be held this Friday-through-Monday, March 9-12, on the campus of Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon.

The Trailblazers were awarded the West Region’s No. 2 seed and will face fellow Pacific West Conference member and No. 7 seed Azusa Pacific (20-10) Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. (PT), at the WOU New PE Building.

Dixie State, which won its sixth Pacific West Conference regular season title in 11 seasons, earned its trip to the “Big Dance” by virtue of winning its second PacWest Conference Tournament championship with a 66-64 victory at No. 19/21 California Baptist last Saturday night in Riverside, California.

The Trailblazers enter the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the country, having won a school-record 17-straight games. DSU’s current streak is the second-longest in the West Region, bested only by the regional tournament host Western Oregon (22 straight).

Rounding out the West Region field is No. 1 seed and Great Northwest Athletic Conference champion WOU (29-1), which will square off against PacWest member No. 8 Point Loma (21-9), while No. 3 seed CBU (25-5) will face No. 6 seed and CCAA tournament champion UC San Diego (21-10), and No. 4 seed Cal Poly Pomona (23-6) will play No. 5 seed Saint Martin’s (24-8). In all, four PacWest schools, two CCAA members and two GNAC members make up the field.

Dixie State’s Brandon Simister (10), Dixie State University vs. Azusa Pacific University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, UT, Dec. 9, 2017, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

All West Regional games will be played in the WOU New PE Building, with the four quarterfinal games taking place on Friday, March 9. The two regional semifinal games will follow on Saturday, March 10, and the regional final will be played on Monday, March 12.

Eight teams were selected from each of the following eight regions for the 64-team tournament: Atlantic, Central, East, Midwest, South, South Central, Southeast and West. The winners of each of the eight regionals will advance on to the 2018 NCAA Elite Eight, which will be held March 21-24, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

On the air
Dixie State’s 2018 NCAA Tournament run will be broadcast live on ESPN Radio 97.7 FM, with DSU Assistant Media Relations Coordinator Keric Seegmiller calling the play-by-play action. Live stats and live streaming video of all West Regional games can be found on the DSU website.

DSU in the NCAAs
Dixie State has advanced to the NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball Tournament eight times in nine seasons since 2010, including six-straight appearances from 2010-15, and advanced all the way to the West Regional final (Sweet 16) in 2011. Overall, the Trailblazers are 2-7 in NCAA tournament play, with both victories coming in that 2011 appearance.

Meanwhile, DSU’s No. 2 seed award this season is the highest seed in program history and marks the fourth time in eight appearances overall that the Trailblazers have been awarded a top-four overall seed (No. 4 in 2011/2013/2015).

Perfect 2018
Dixie State remains unbeaten through the first two-plus months of 2018, which includes an unblemished 15-0 record in January (8-0) and February (7-0), with 12 of those wins coming by double digits.

In fact, DSU has played to a 68-21 (.764) overall record in the month of January in the program’s NCAA era (12 seasons), including a 15-1 mark over the past two campaigns. In addition, the eight wins this past January eclipsed the previous best win total of seven first set in 2010 and repeated in 2012 and 2017.

When the calendar turns to February, DSU is 68-19 (.781) all-time, including a dominant 58-9 (.865) mark since the 2009-10 season with three undefeated Februarys (2015/2016/2018) over that stretch.

Hot streak
Dixie State’s current 17-game winning streak is the longest streak in the program’s NCAA era, eclipsing the previous record streak of 13 games in 2011-12, which coincidentally, also came in PacWest play. That season, DSU went on to win the PacWest regular season title and advance to the NCAA West Regionals.

Coach Jon Judkins was presented the game ball after Saturday’s win, St. George, Utah, Jan. 28, 2017 | Photo courtesy DSU Athletics

Award-winning coach
Six-time PacWest Conference Coach of the Year Jon Judkins (Utah State, 1988; 528-244 career record) is in his 13th season on the Dixie State bench, where he has compiled a 244-116 overall record, including a 224-104 mark during DSU’s NCAA Division II era, and a 156-42 record in PacWest play.

Judkins has led the Trailblazers to 10-straight winning seasons with seven 20-win campaigns, which includes a school-record 23 victories this season and 22 wins in both the 2010-11 and 2012-13 campaigns. He has also guided them to six Pacific West Conference championships, including four-straight titles from 2009-13 and another crown in 2014-15, along with PacWest Tournament titles in 2013 and 2018. In addition, Judkins has led Dixie State to eight trips to the NCAA Tournament in the last nine seasons overall from 2010-18, advancing all the way to the “Sweet 16” in the 2011 West Regional final.

Prior to his arrival at Dixie State, Judkins served as head coach at Snow College for 12 full seasons and posted a 284-128 overall record. He led the Badgers to a pair of Scenic West Athletic Conference titles in 1999 and 2000, which earned him SWAC Coach of the Year honors. Judkins played for one season at Dixie State before transferring to Utah State, where he became the first (and only) Aggie to post a triple-double. During the 1987-88 season, he helped lead the Aggies to the PCAA title and an NCAA Tournament bid.

Judkins is joined on the bench this season by former DSU player and fifth-year assistant coach Kasey Winters (Dixie State, 2008), along with former DSU standout guard Jeremiah Barnes (Dixie State, 2011), who is in his first season on the DSU sideline, and first-year volunteer assistant coach David Foster (Utah, 2013).

Over 500 wins
Judkins became the first men’s basketball coach in Utah collegiate basketball history to reach the 500-win plateau when Dixie State defeated Hawai’i Hilo (81-72) back on January 28, 2017.

Coach Judkins is currently ranked second all-time in coaching victories in Utah college basketball history behind legendary University of Utah head women’s coach Elaine Elliott, who amassed 582 career wins (582-234) in 27 seasons on the Utes’ sideline.

Dixie State’s Zac Hunter (34), Dixie State University vs. Holy Names University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 19, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Sizing up the regional
Dixie State and Azusa Pacific met only once this season in PacWest play, with the Trailblazers posting an 88-73 home win inside the Burns Arena (12/9/17). DSU has won its last two games against APU, which snapped a four-game losing streak vs. APU, including a 104-103 overtime win in Azusa (12/10/16) in a game that saw a nine-point Trailblazer lead evaporate over the final two minutes of regulation, while the Cougars did just enough in overtime to come away with the victory.

In all, Dixie State has faced six of the seven teams that will be joining the Trailblazers in Monmouth for this weekend’s regional. DSU is 5-4 in nine games against those opponents, which includes a 2-1 record against California Baptist, 1-0 vs. UCSD, 1-1 vs. PLNU and 0-1 against both CPP and WOU.

Vs. non-conference foes
DSU is 69-63 (.522) all-time against non-conference opponents in its 11-plus seasons of four-year competition, which includes an 11-14 record in the program’s first year of NCAA play (2006-07), and a combined 6-11 postseason record (4-4 PacWest, 2-7 NCAA).

DSU (5-4 in 2017-18) has posted six overall season-winning records in non-conference games over that span, including a program-best nine wins in 2010-11 (9-4), eight wins in 2008-09 (8-7), and seven victories in 2012-13 (7-4).

Home-court advantage
Dixie State put a bow on its 2017-18 home slate with a 9-1 record – all of which came in PacWest play, and in the process, recorded its 11th-straight home winning season record in the program’s four-year era.

Since becoming an NCAA Division II program in 2006-07, Dixie State has played to a 112-23 (.829) overall record inside the Burns Arena under Head Coach Jon Judkins, and has posted seven 10-plus win seasons over that span, including a perfect 12-0 record in 2009-10, and 11-1 records in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.

The Trailblazers also closed out their PacWest membership with a dominant 87-12 (.878) record at home in 99 home conference games played over 11 seasons.

Dixie State’s overtime win over California Baptist (1/8) was played in front of a season-high 4,110 fans inside the Burns Arena, which is the sixth-largest crowd to attend a DSU home game since the program’s move to NCAA competition.

In fact, the CBU game marked the ninth time in DSU’s four-year era that 4,000-plus attended a DSU home game and it was the most attended home game since Dixie State played Azusa Pacific in front of 4,278 fans during the 2013-14 season (1/11/14). DSU’s all-time Division II home attendance record is 4,602, which was set vs. BYU-Hawaii on Feb. 23, 2013.

Through DSU’s 10 home dates this season, the Trailblazers averaged 2,631 fans per game, which is the second-best average in the NCAA DII ranks. In addition, DSU finished the regular season ranked seventh-nationally in total home attendance (26,309). 

Dixie State’s Isaiah Clark (52), Dixie State University vs. Hawai’i Pacific University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Road success
The Trailblazers are a combined 14-5 as road warriors this season, including a 10-4 road mark to go with a 4-1 record in neutral-site games.

Dixie State is 113-82 (.579) away from home in its Division II era under Judkins, including an 8-8 record last season (8-5 road/0-3 neutral), and a 9-6 mark in 2015-16. Overall, the Trailblazers have played to a 89-62 record (.589) in true road games, and a 24-20 mark (.545) in neutral site games during Judkins’ tenure.

In addition, DSU has won eight or more games away from home in nine-straight seasons, and in 10 of its 12 D-II campaigns overall, including a program-best 15-5 record (10-2 in road contests) in 2010-11.

Dixie State also finished with a 69-30 (.697) road record in its 11 seasons of PacWest league membership (9-1 this season/7-3 in 2016-17). Overall, the Trailblazers have posted a winning conference road mark in nine-straight seasons and have reached the seven-win plateau in seven of their last eight league campaigns.

End of an era
The Trailblazers ended their 11 years of PacWest membership as the conference’s all-time winningest program with 156 conference wins (156-42) and a .788 league winning percentage. In addition, DSU’s 18 wins in PacWest play this year were not only the most in program history, the win total also tied the conference all-time season record for wins (Hawai’i Pacific in 2017; CBU in 2014).

Deep balls
Dating back to late last season, Dixie State has hit at least one 3-pointer in 33-straight games, including a season-high 11 treys in DSU’s Senior Day win over Holy Names (2/19), and nine 3-pointers vs. Point Loma (12/30). In fact. DSU hit of 11-of-21 (.524) from downtown vs. the Hawks, while the 21 attempts vs. HNU were the second-most this season (22 vs. Dickinson State, 11/25).

Last season, the Trailblazers saw their streak of hitting at least one 3-pointer halted at 76 games after an 0-of-7 night from beyond the arc in a win at BYU-Hawaii (2/18/17).

Prior to the BYU-H game, the last time Dixie State went without hitting a 3-pointer was at home vs. Western Oregon (11/25/14) in the second game of the 2014-15 season, which snapped a program-best 127-game streak that encompassed four full seasons and the final 13 games of the 2009-10 campaign. The other two times DSU failed to connect from the perimeter happened on the road at Academy of Art (1/16/10), and at Notre Dame de Namur (2/2/08) during the program’s first year of PacWest play.

In all, Dixie State has hit at least one three pointer in 232 of its last 234 games overall, and in 326 of the program’s 330 games NCAA-era games since the beginning of the 2006-07 season.

Dixie State has reached double-figures in made 3-pointers 13 times overall, and prior to the HNU win last month, the last occasion happened at Chaminade (10 3FGM, 1/23/16), while the single-game 3FGM school record is 13 set at Carroll College on Nov. 11, 2008.

Dixie State’s Trevor Hill (24) goes up for a 360 dunk, Dixie State University vs. Holy Names University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 19, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Trophy case
Senior guard Trevor Hill swept both the Player of the Year and Defender of the Year awards to highlight Dixie State’s representation in the 2017-18 Pacific West Conference Men’s Basketball postseason honors announcement this past Feb. 28.

Hill, along with fellow senior guard Brandon Simister, earned first team all-PacWest honors, while senior forward Zac Hunter was an honorable mention pick. In addition, Judkins was named PacWest Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career after he led the Trailblazers to their sixth conference regular season crown in 11 seasons with an 18-2 league record.

Hill is the first player in DSU history to earn the league’s Player of the Year award and is DSU’s second Defender of the Year (Mark Ogden Jr. in 2016). Hill is also the first player in conference history to sweep both awards, and is now a three-time all-PacWest selection overall, having earned 2015-16 second team and 2016-17 first team accolades. He started in all 29 games this season and currently leads DSU in scoring (15.2 ppg), rebounding (5.7 rpg), assists 4.8 (apg) and steals (2.1 spg). Additionally, Hill finished the regular season as the PacWest leader in steals and is DSU’s single-season record-holder with 61, which included a DSU single-game record tying six steals in a road win at Dominican (1/18), and he finished the regular season ranked third in the conference in assists (3rd), seventh in scoring (7th), 13th in assist/turnover ratio (1.5) and 22nd in rebounding.

Hill scored in double figures in 24 games with five games of 20 or more points, and led the team in scoring and rebounding 11 times, assists 18 times and steals 14 times, and posted a team-high three double-doubles. He earned PacWest Player of the Week honors in November after he became the first player in the DSU’s NCAA era to record consecutive 30-point games, which included a school single game record 35 points in a win against Eastern New Mexico (11/17) and 30 points the next night against the top team in the West Region in Western Oregon (11/18).

Hill also earned PacWest All-Tournament team honors after he averaged 14.5 points in DSU’s two wins, including 19 points (15 in the second half) in the Trailblazers’ tourney-clinching win over CBU.

The senior is ranked in the top-10 all-time in 13 statistical categories and is DSU’s career leader in free throws made (453), steals (164) and assists (415). He will also become DSU’s career leader in games played in Friday’s tourney opener vs. APU, and Hill (1,426 pts) needs 45 points to pass former DSU great Zach Robbins (1,470 pts, 2009-15) and become DSU’s all-time scoring leader. In addition, Hill is second all-time in rebounding (585) and is in ninth place on the PacWest’s career rebounding list.

Brandon Simister

Simister, who was a 2016-17 All-PacWest Honorable Mention pick, started in all 27 games he played in this season and is currently DSU’s second-leading scorer at 15.0 ppg. He scored in double figures in 22 of his 27 starts with a team-high seven 20-plus point outings, and he led the team in scoring 12 times overall.

The senior was named the PacWest Tournament Most Outstanding Player after pouring in a career-high 28 points in DSU’s tourney clinching win over CBU. He also tallied 25 points with a DSU single-game record-tying six 3-pointers in a win over Holy Names (2/19), and followed that up with a game-high 19 points, 13 in the second half, in DSU’s PacWest title-clinching win at Point Loma (2/24), which earned him PacWest Player of the Week honors.

He is currently ranked 10th-nationally in free throw percentage with a DSU single-season record 90.8 percent clip, which includes breaking DSU and PacWest single-game records with 18-straight free throws made in a win at Concordia-Irvine (Dec. 18), going 18-for-18 overall.

Simister also owns the DSU TRIFECTA as the single game (co-leader with 6), single-season (63 in 2017-18) and career (161) 3FG leader. He is also DSU’s career leader in free throw percentage (.872) and became the fourth player to reach the 1,100-point plateau in the Concordia-Irvine tourney win (1,128). In all, he is ranked in the top-10 all-time in 13 DSU career statistical categories, including second all-time in free throws made (336), third in assists (306) and third in career 3-point percentage (.426).

Hunter has started in 24 of 29 games played this season and averaged nearly 10 points and six rebounds in PacWest play. He posted his first collegiate double-double with 12 points and 10 boards in the home win over Holy Names (2/19) and reached double figures in points in 13 games overall.

Since his insertion into the starting line up 24 games ago, he has averaged 8.4 points and 5.9 rebounds over this current stretch, including a season-high 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the comeback win vs. Biola (1/3). Hunter has also vaulted into fifth on DSU’s career rebounding list (439) and is now 10th in career scoring with 768 points.

Dixie State’s Austin Montgomery (50), Dixie State University vs. California Baptist University, St. George, UT. Jan. 8, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Dunk-o-meter
Dixie State has combined to throw down 50 dunks through 29 games this season, this after finishing with 30 dunks in 28 games last season and 32 total throw-downs in the 2015-16 campaign.

In all, seven Trailblazers have “rocked the rim” this year, led by Hill with 22 dunks, including a pair of “highlight reel” dunks in the Holy Names win (2/19). The first Hill jam, a steal and a breakaway 360 flush, was ranked No. 8 on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top-10 Plays of the Day,” while his second dunk was an alley-oop off a left-wing lob from fellow senior Kyler Nielson, which opened the second half. Hill also had a steal and breakaway dunk in the first half at PLNU last Saturday.

Hill, who also threw down three dunks in the first half at Notre Dame de Namur (1/13), has 50 career dunks to his credit (Jr.-13/So.-8/Fr.-7) overall.

Meanwhile, junior forward Austin Montgomery is second on the team with 12 dunks, including a combined three jams at the PacWest tourney last weekend.

Team notes

  • Dixie State became the first PacWest program to sweep both the PacWest regular season and tournament titles for a second time … DSU also achieved that feat in 2013, which was the first season the PacWest postseason tournament was held.
  • DSU is also the first two-time winner of the PacWest postseason tournament.
  • Dixie State broke a school single-game record with a program- low three total turnovers in the loss at California Baptist (12/16) … the previous program low was four, first set vs. Notre Dame de Namur (1/25/10), and was tied last season at home vs. CBU (2/11/17).
  • In all, DSU has posted single-digit turnovers numbers in eight games this season, including all three match-ups vs. CBU.
  • Dating back to last season, Dixie State has had 33 of its last 56 games decided by nine points or less, including 13 of 29 games this year, and the first 12 games of the 2016-17 campaign.
  • File photo, Dixie State’s Quincy Mathews (32), Dixie State University vs. Dominican University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, UT, Jan. 5, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

    On the flip side, 12 of DSU 17-straight victories over this current win streak have been by double figures, highlighted by the 34-point win vs. Hilo (2/10), which is DSU’s most lopsided with this season … the Trailblazers’ average margin of victory over the win streak is 14.3 ppg.

  • DSU’s 99 points vs. Hilo (2/10) also tied a season-high, the first occasion came in the 99-89 OT win vs. Eastern New Mexico (11/17).
  • Also dating back to last season, Dixie State has shot 50 percent or better in 19 of its last 51 games overall, including wins at NDNU (1/13) and HNU (1/15) to open the Bay Area road trip.
  • In fact, five of DSU’s top-six shooting performances this season have come in victories ON THE ROAD, including both games at NDNU and HNU, and a 2017-18 season-best 57.8 percent (26-of-45) at Concordia-Irvine (12/18) … The Trailblazers bucked that trend in the HNU home win (2/19) as DSU shot a season-high 60.0 percent (33-of-55) from the floor, including a sizzling 70.4 percent clip (19-of-27) in the second half.
  • In all, DSU has shot 50 percent or better eight times this season, with seven of those occasions coming on the road … DSU has also shot 50 percent or better in three-straight games, a feat that has not happened since a four-game stretch between Dec. 8-19 of the 2016-17 season.
  • For the season Dixie State is shooting 46.7 percent from the floor, including 37.6 percent (150-of-399) from the perimeter, while DSU opponents are shooting at .404 FG/.328 3FG clips, both of which leads the PacWest Conference.
  • Speaking of good defense, DSU recorded a season-high 15 steals in the HNU win (2/19), which is also the second-highest single game total in program history … The Trailblazers also picked off 11 steals at PLNU (2/24).
  • DSU is shooting 68.3 percent (542-of-793) at the line, which was ninth-best in the PacWest, including an 83.3 percent night in the PacWest tourney final at CBU … DSU currently leads the PacWest by a wide margin in FTM and FTA.
  • Dixie State pulled down a school record with 62 rebounds in the loss at Cal Poly Pomona (11/10), which bested the previous school record of 61 set last season vs. BYU-Hawaii (2/2/17).
  • The Trailblazers have won the “Battle of the Boards” in 23 of 29 games this season and is ranked 31st-nationally in rebounding margin (+5.6 rpg).
  • Senior G/F Kyler Nielson has averaged 7.9 points over his last 20 games, highlighted by a career-high 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four 3-pointers vs. Point Loma (12/30), and a 14-point night on 6-of-9 from the floor in the HPU win (2/17).
  • Senior forward Isaiah Clark scored a career-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting with six rebounds in just 22 minutes in the win at Biola (2/22) … Clark’s career night eclipsed his previous career-highs of 14 points set against both HPU (2/17) and at Cal Poly Pomona (11/10) in the season opener.
  • Clark earned PacWest All-Tournament Team honors last week, thanks in part to a 10-point (on 5-of-6 shooting), eight-rebound effort in the semifinal win over Concordia-Irvine … He followed that up with two points, seven boards and two blocks in the final vs. CBU … Clark leads the team in blocks (24) and has recorded at least one block in 15 of 29 starts this season.
  • Dixie State’s Dub Price (42), Dixie State University vs. Hawai’i Pacific University, Men’s Basketball, St. George, Utah, Feb. 17, 2018, | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

    Junior forward Dub Price went for nine points against both Biola (2/22) and PLNU (2/24) on a combined 7-of-13 from the floor, and had eight points and four rebounds in the CUI PWCT semifinal win … Price scored seven (in-a-row) of his nine points at PLNU during a second-half stretch that helped DSU withstand a huge Sea Lion rally in the Trailblazers’ regular season title-clinching win.

  • Junior forward Austin Montgomery posted his sixth double-digit scoring game of the season with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting vs. Hilo (2/10) … Montgomery also poured in nine points on 4-of-5 shooting vs. CUI in the PWCT semifinal, and scored four points in the CBU win.
  • Junior guard Quincy Mathews had himself a good PacWest tourney run, which started with team-highs of 10 points and nine rebounds in just 15 minutes off the bench in the CUI win … “Q” followed that up the next night with six points and four boards in the title-clinching victory at CBU.
  • Senior guard Daylor Youngblood filled up the stat sheet to the tune of eight points on 3-of-4 shooting with four boards, three assists and two steals in just 12 minutes vs. Hilo (2/10) … Youngblood also enjoyed a banner outing on Senior Night vs. HNU (2/19) as he posted career highs in assists (5) and steals (4) to go with six points in 17 reserve minutes.
  • Junior guard/forward Wade Miller tied DSU’s single-game record with six 3-pointers on his way to a game and career-high 22 points in the FPU win (1/26) … Miller hit on 6-of-11 from the perimeter (7-of-13 FG overall) to go with four rebounds, one assist and one steal in 22 minutes off the bench.
  • Freshman reserve PG Tarik Cool poured in a career-high tying seven points vs. HNU (2/19) … Cool also tallied seven points in a home win over Academy of Art (12/2).
  • Overall, the DSU bench has scored 30 or more points 12 times this season, including 39 vs. Hilo (2/10) and 38 at NDNU (1/13) to go with a season-high 43 bench points vs. FPU (1/26).

Up next
The winner of the NCAA West Region, along with the other seven regional winners, will advance to the 2017 NCAA Elite Eight, which will be held March 21-24, at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

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