Richard Barton scored 32 points, including 19 in the first half, to lead Southern Utah State to a 123-78 victory over Northeastern Illinois in the season opener for both teams Saturday.
SUSC never trailed in the game as the Thunderbirds built a 17-point lead, 61-44, at halftime and charged ahead by 35 with 8:15 to play on a pair of free throws by DaVor Marcelic.Minson Rubin led the Eagles with 19 points. Other Northeast Illinois players in double figures included Kevin Flegner with 17, Sid Pointer with 14 and Ted Logan with 11.
SUSC had five players in double figures, Besides Barton, the T-Birds got 24 points from Marcelic, 16 from Peter Johnson, 14 from Dana Achtzehn and 10 from William Allen.
Allen, the team's leading scorer and rebounder last year, injured his knee during the game and will be out for the season.