FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Northern Arizona men's basketball will open up the 2014 Big Sky Tournament against No. 6 Northern Colorado. The first round game will be held at the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State. Tip-off versus the Bears is set for 3:30 p.m. Arizona time.
Thursday will mark NAU's 22nd appearance in the Big Sky Tournament and the second straight under head coach Jack Murphy. The Lumberjacks will look to win all three games in the tournament to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The last time NAU won the Big Sky Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament was in 2000. The Lumberjacks are 14-19 all-time in the conference tournament, with its only other tournament crown coming in 1998.
NAU is 6-6 against this year's Big Sky Tournament field during the regular season and 6-18 all-time against the field in the tournament. The Lumberjacks are led by 2014 Big Sky First Team All-Conference and Newcomer of the Year Quinton Upshur. In his first year with the Lumberjacks, Upshur ranks in the top 10 in the league in scoring and is one of the top three-point shooters in the league.
Scouting Northern Colorado
Northern Colorado defeated NAU both times this season to complete the sweep. (Jan. 23: 87-72, Feb. 20: 74-59). The Bears hold a 12-8 overall edge over NAU, including winning the last three contests. NAU and UNC have only faced off once in the Big Sky Tournament back in 2011. The Bears defeated the Lumberjacks 73-70 in the semifinal match up. Tate Unruh is the only player from either team who played in that game. The Bears snapped a four-game losing streak to end the regular season with a win on the road at Southern Utah. UNC is 4-8 in its last 12 games. UNC head coach B.J. Hill is one of three coaches in the tournament that have won Big Sky titles. UNC assistant coach Will Hensley is a former NAU player and assistant coach. UNC is second in the league in scoring offense at 74.8 points per game. Tate Unruh is seventh in the league in scoring at 15.8 points per game.
Five of the Big Sky Conference games from the men's tournament will be available for free on Big Sky TV. Weber State and the Big Sky Conference will give fans a true tournament experience through Watch Big Sky. Press conferences from all of the games will be available for fans. Steve Klauke and Lance Barton will call all of the action on Watch Big Sky starting with all three first-round games on Thursday. The two semifinal games will also be available on Watch Big Sky. Watch Big Sky can be accessed on your PC at www.watchbigsky.com. The free Watch Big Sky App can be downloaded through the Apple Store or Google Play.
Lumberjack fans can tune into www.BigTalkerRadio.com to hear Mitch Strohman and Dave Brown call the game live.
Saturday's championship game will be televised live on ESPNU starting at 6 p.m. Mountain. Roxy Bernstein and Corey Williams will call the action on ESPNU. The championship game will not be available on Watch Big Sky, but will be available on Watch ESPN.
Live Statistics will be available for all tournament games through www.BigSkyStats.com