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Nanooks men hope to avoid sweep at home

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Posted: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:58 pm | Updated: 12:00 am, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

FAIRBANKS — Head coach Mick Durham is hoping the Alaska Nanooks men’s basketball team avoids at home what happened on the road last week.

The Nanooks were swept.  

Tonight, Alaska, in third place in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (7-4 GNAC, 12-7 overall), is playing host to Montana State Billings at 7 p.m. in the Patty Center and faces 15th-ranked and co-GNAC leader Seattle Pacific at the same time Saturday night.

The Nanooks are coming off of a 53-51 last Thursday against GNAC co-leader Western Washington University  in Bellingham, Wash. On Saturday, Alaska fell 70-60 to Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia.

“I think we knew going in that in the GNAC, every one has to face a little adversity,’’ Durham said by telephone Wednesday. “The road is tough, and we didn’t get it done.”

The Nanooks hope to create a tough environment this week for Montana State Billings and Seattle Pacific. Montana State Billings, at 4-7 GNAC and 8-11 overall, is in a three-way tie for sixth place in the conference and Seattle Pacific has a share of the top spot with a 9-2 conference and 18-4 overall mark.

“We’ve had four games in 10 days, and the guys are definitely determined to bounce back,’’ Durham said. 

Durham has started tapering practices as the regular season winds down. The top six teams in the regular season qualify for next month’s conference tournament.

“We’ve watched film this week and we’ve try to get some shots up,’’ he said. “We really haven’t done too much. You want to try to stay fresh at this time of the year, which I think is important.”

Senior guard Ronnie Baker leads the Nanooks with 14.5 points per game  and senior forward Andrew Kelly averages a team-high 8.2 rebounds to go with 12.4 points, third best on the team.

Senior center Sergei Pucar is Alaska’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points per contest.

Jonathan Mesghna is Montana State Billings’ leading scorer, averaging 14.4 points while David Downs leads Seattle Pacific with a 19.5 points per game average.

Contact sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586 or follow him on Twitter: @newsminersports.

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