Utah Valley men's basketball: Wolverines face NJIT in key Great West conference matchup

By Clint Burgi

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 8 2012 4:40 p.m. MST

OREM — The Utah Valley University men's basketball team begins the second half of Great West Conference play this week when it travels east for a Thursday night meeting with NJIT. The game is set to tip at 5 p.m. at NJIT's Fleisher Athletic Center, and marks the second meeting between the two squads in less than two weeks.

UVU (15-10, 5-0 GWC) defeated the Highlanders 81-58 in the UCCU Center on Jan. 28. Geddes Robinson put up a double-double with 12 points and school record-tying 18 rebounds in the victory.

"It's a quick turnaround series," said UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker, who is one win shy of 350 for his college-coaching career. "We have great respect for the competitive mindset that NJIT always brings. We know they're still stinging from the game in Orem and we're really going to be at our best on Thursday night."

NJIT (10-12, 2-3 GWC) stepped out of conference play last week for a home game against Patriot League foe Colgate, losing a tight 76-73 ballgame. Trailing by 11 with five minutes to play, NJIT fought its way back into the game, but Isaiah Wilkerson's potential game-tying 3 at the horn was off the mark. Chris Flores scored 17 points and Wilkerson scored 14 for the Highlanders.

NJIT rebounded with a 73-64 win over GWC rival Chicago State on Saturday. Wilkerson led the Highlanders with a career-high 26 points, including 10 in the final minute, on his way to claiming GWC Player of the Week honors.

Wilkerson, a senior from Staten Island, leads the GWC in scoring, at 16.5 points per game, and is NJIT's leading rebounder at 6.1 per contest. Flores is next in both categories, putting up 12.9 ppg and 4.0 rpg.

Wilkerson and Flores scored 19 and 17 points, respectively, against UVU in their last meeting against the Wolverines.

UVU is riding an eight-game win streak and is undefeated in conference play heading into Thursday night. The Wolverines were successful on the road last week, topping Texas-Pan American 77-69 before scooting past Houston Baptist, 68-66. Leading scorer Isiah Williams posted 16 points at HBU while Ben Aird registered a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

Williams' 15.5 ppg lead the Wolverines followed by 10.0 ppg from Geddes Robinson. Robinson also leads the team in rebounds, grabbing 10.6 per contest, a figure that ranks 12th nationally. From there, Holton Hunsaker averages 9.7 ppg and Aird is second in rebounding at 7.1 rpg.

UVU remains on the road Saturday when it travels to face the Chicago State Cougars for a 1 p.m. time tip-off. The Wolverines then return home for a brief respite from conference play as Montana Tech visits the UCCU Center Monday night.

Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit http://www.WolverineGreen.com

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