ST. GEORGE — Both Utah Tech University basketball teams face the portion of their schedule that pits the Trailblazers against their conference foes as well as their state rivals.

The Utah Tech men’s basketball team prepares to take the court against the Colorado Buffaloes in Boulder, Colorado, Dec. 21, 2023 | Photo by Emily Wight, Utah Tech Athletics, St. George News

The Trailblazer men’s team is at Cedar City Thursday night for a renewal of their rivalry against Southern Utah University. Also Thursday night in St. George, the Utah Tech women host Southern Utah at Burns Arena at 7 p.m.

The men’s game tips off in America First Event Center at 6:30 p.m. Fans who don’t want to make the short drive up I-15 can listen to Voice of the Trailblazers Rod Zundel call the game live on The Fan Sports Network.

Utah Tech beat Stephen F. Austin 75-70 in Burns Arena last week to improve its overall record to 7-9. More importantly, the win brought Utah Tech’s record in the Western Athletic Conference to 3-2.

Noa Gonsalves continues to blister the nets for Utah Tech, netting five 3-pointers in the first half and finishing with 18 points in the SFA win. Gonsalves has canned 36 triples so far this year, good for third place in the WAC.

Hamed Olayinka had a breakout game in the win against the Lumberjacks, posting 13 points, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks in 21 minutes on the floor.

Already known for splashing some big dunks so far this season, Olayinka raised his season total of blocks to 28. Utah Tech is the only WAC team with two players in the top-five rebounders, with Olayinka’s 28 and Tanner Christensen’s 30.

Also in the win against SFA, Utah Tech’s Jaylen Searles pulled off a rare statistical feat: he was a perfect 2-for-2 from the field (with two made 3-pointers) and a perfect 2-for-2 from the free throw line, finishing with eight points.

Southern Utah enters the contest winless in the WAC (0-5) and 5-11 overall. First-year head coach Rob Jeter rotates four T-Birds who average 13 or more points, led by Dominique Ford’s 15.4 points per game.

Jeter is taking over for last year’s head coach Todd Simon, who currently has Bowling Green off to a 14-4 record and a second-place standing in the Mid-American Conference.

Utah Tech’s Breaunna Gillen, here in a file photo against Oklahoma State, will lead the Trailblazers against Southern Utah, St. George, Utah, Jan. 18, 2023 | Photo by Stan Plewe, Utah Tech Athletics Media Relations, St. George News

The Trailblazer women (8-8, 2-3 WAC) enter the first of four consecutive home games on a two-game losing skid.

Utah Tech is a combined 9-18 against its fellow Beehive State opponents in the program’s NCAA era, though the Blazers are 7-8 in in-state rivalry games during their current Division I transition.

The Trailblazers have three of the top 1o WAC scorers, led by preseason WAC Player of the Year Breaunna Gillen’s 15.5 points per game.

Maddie Warren (15.2 ppg) and Macie Warren (14.9 ppg) are the other two leading scorers. The trio of Gillen and the Warren twins are also in the WAC top 10 in shooting percentage.

After an appearance in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament last year, SUU comes into the game with a 4-10 record, including 2-3 in WAC play.

SUU’s Megan Smith is the second-leading scorer in the WAC at 16.2 points per game. Freshman Ava Ulrich is the T-Birds’ top rebounder (7.3 boards per game) and averages 13.1 points per contest.

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