It is dubbed the Freeway Frenzy. There is a good reason for that.
50 miles of freeway separate the campuses of Southern Utah and Utah Tech. That’s right. I-15 winds its way from Cedar City through an elongated canyon until you see the red cliffs and plateaus of Washington County.
Thus, the rivalry blossoming between Southern Utah and Utah Tech has come to be known as the Freeway Frenzy.
On Friday night, at a sold out America First Events Center, the Freeway Frenzy lived up to the hype.
Tevian Jones had a team-high 22 points as Southern Utah held off Utah Tech, 81-71, to keep pace for the regular season title.
Once again, the home team in this rivalry series won. SUU’s three wins in the series have come in Cedar City. Utah Tech’s two wins in the series have come in St. George.
Home court advantage at its finest.
— SUU Men's Basketball (@SUUBasketball) February 18, 2023
However, it wasn’t easy sledding for the T-Birds in Friday’s newest rendition of the Freeway Frenzy.
For context, the last time SUU hosted Utah Tech, the T-Birds ran the Trailblazers back to St. George with a 28-point win.
However, there was not going to be a blowout on Friday night. Isaiah Pope and Jacob Nicolds did their best to make sure that wasn’t going to happen again.
Parsa Fallah’s layup with 7:51 left in the first half gave SUU its largest lead at 11.
But, Isaiah Pope hit a 3-pointer on the following Utah Tech possession. Trey Edmonds followed that up with a layup to cut the deficit to six.
Five straight points from Tevian Jones pushed the lead back to 11. But, Utah Tech responded with a 7-0 run to cut the deficit to four with 4:01 left in the first half.
It was a Freeway Frenzy in the final two minutes of the first half, courtesy of Tevian Jones and Isaiah Pope.
Jones knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:35 left in the half. Pope responded with a 3-pointer of his own 13 seconds later. And it was Tevian Jones knocking down the 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in the half that gave SUU a 38-31 lead at the break.
It was a frenzy inside the AFEC coming out of the locker room. Utah Tech began the half on a 7-0 run to tie things at 38.
SUU responded with an 8-0 run capped off by a Maizen Fausett 3-pointer.
Utah Tech wouldn’t go away. Noa Gonsalves hit a 3-pointer and Isaiah Pope’s jumper cut the deficit to five with 14:17 to play. Gonsalves hit another 3-pointer on the following Utah Tech possession and all of a sudden it was a two-point game.
With 8:45 to play, Tanner Christensen posterized Dee Barnes to give Utah Tech its firsts lead since the 19:28 mark of the first half.
— Utah Tech Men's Basketball (@UtahTechMBB) February 18, 2023
Unfortunately for the Trailblazers, that is when the frenzy ended.
Harrison Butler capped off an 8-0 run with a nifty layup to give SUU a 60-53 lead in the freeway frenzy.
Utah Tech got within five on a pair of Jacob Nicolds free throws.
However, Tevian Jones and Harrison Butler responded with back-to-back 3-pointers.
Southern Utah hit free throws down the stretch to seal the 81-71 win.
Jones led four T-Birds in double figures with 22 points. Maizen Fausett finished with 20 points and nine rebounds. Drake Allen had 19 points. Harrison Butler finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
Isaiah Pope and Jacob Nicolds were the only Trailblazers in double figures with 24 and 22 points, respectively.
With the win, Southern Utah improves to 18-9 overall and 10-4 in WAC play. The T-Birds are off until Thursday when they head to Texas to take on UT Arlington.
Utah Tech falls to 11-16 overall and 3-11 in WAC play. The Trailblazers are at UTRGV on Thursday night.