This archived article was written by: Riley Spears
The College of Eastern Utah men’s basketball team is off to an impressive start, beating any opponent that has gotten in their way. CEU kept the undefeated streak garnering three more wins against Western Wyoming, Casper Community College and Northeastern Junior College recently.
The first match-up was against Western Wyoming on Nov. 25, which assistant Coach Anthony Owens says, was their best game this year. CEU started off the game shooting over 54 percent from the field and 88 percent from the line in the first half and jumped to an early 54-38 lead at the half. The second half was a lot of the same with CEU shooting 77 percent from the field. They were led by third-team All-American Darington Hobson, who dropped 35 points and added 12 boards in the 102-83 whooping.
Head Basketball Coach Chris Craig said, “This was our best offensive performance of the year, but we didn’t guard the ball at all. Our team got a little confused because of this game with our identity and who we are as a team; Aaron England gave us huge minutes off the bench. He scored 16 points in 20 minutes and played solid defense in the second half on WW’s best player.”
Hobson was not the only Eagle with a great game. Stephen Franklin added 20 points and five rebounds. Aaron England was also in double figures for EU with 16, including 2-3 from behind the arc. As a team CEU shot 40 percent from three-point land. CEU also out-worked Wyoming by out-rebounding them 34-16.
The next game on Nov. 27 had EU playing Northeastern Junior College. This was a closer game for CEU but they still showed that they were the better team. They were out played in the first half and went into the locker room down 43-28.
Coach Owens said, “This is an interesting team. We can start off the week practicing badly but by the end of the week, we always end up working hard. And that shows in our games because we play much better in the second half.”
This was true for this game as CEU came out in the second half and never let NJC get started, holding them to 17 points in the second half. But holding them was not the only problem. They had to make up for lost points in the first half and they did just that. CEU ended the game with three players in double figures and two more with nine, helping CEU with the victory 76-70.
Coach Craig said, “We didn’t play very well, particularly in the first half, but found a way to win. Northeastern played trying not to lose in the second half and basically handed us the game. The positive thing is when they handed it to us, we had enough toughness to take it. Isiah Williams was the reason we were able to climb back in the game. He came in and attacked the basket relentlessly and took over the game for a 10-minute stretch at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half.
Leading the scoring charge for CEU was Hobson with 19 points and eight rebounds. Next was freshman Williams who scored 13 points on six-11 from the field, Mike Scott also got into the scoring with 14 points and four assists
Craig said, “Mike Scott is our leader. He has the guy’s respect and is a true point guard. He does whatever it takes for his team to win if that means 15 shots or zero shots in a game.”
In the last game of the weekend, Nov. 28, CEU played Casper Community College. The Eagles showed how versatile they are with six players in double figures. From the tip, CEU was in control and it showed when they went into the half leading 35-26. They outshot CCC, 50-22 percent from the field. The second half was much of the same but with CCC shooting much better from the field at 48 percent but CEU stepped it up, shooting 71 percent. By the end of the game CEU won 85-71.
Leading the impressive scoring attack for CEU was Hobson with 21 points and 12 boards, Scott added 14 points and four boards. Franklin and Nick Thompson each got 12 points and Chandler Pearson collected 10 points and seven rebounds and Phillip Thomas added 11 in the win.
The coach said, “Nick Thompson really stepped up as a freshman. He is our third leading scorer behind Darington and Stephen and is a very versatile player. He has to continue to develop defensively but I’ve been very pleased with his progress thus far.”
He added “We played very solid defensively the first half and played horrible in the second half. Our guys still have not figured out the defensive intensity for 40 minutes needed to win in our conference. But at the end of the day, our guys found a way to win on the road and that is a huge trait of this team.”
Coach Owens added, “All our freshmen have stepped up. It seems we have a different player step up every night.”
The next games for CEU is the Boise Equipment Tourney on December 5-6 in Idaho and their next home game will be Saturday, Dec. 13 in the BDAC.
Coach Craig said, “I don’t think our team is improving the way I would like. We are playing “just good enough” to win and when conference season rolls around that won’t be good enough. We need to develop more of a killer instinct and when we have a chance to put a team away we need to go for their heart.” He added, “The strength of our team is still our depth and versatility. We have a number of guys who have stepped up and on any given night it could be any one of them to step up.”
Coach Owens added, “We will see a lot when they get back from Christmas break. We have to get to business and work hard.”
Hobson said, ” We are playing hard in practice, everyone gives 100 percent and this team gets along very well.”