NAU announces basketball schedule

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Northern Arizona men’s basketball team released their 2014-15 schedule and led by third-year head coach Jack Murphy, the Lumberjacks enter their 103rd season of basketball in Flagstaff.

"We are excited about the schedule, because it will be challenging early and help prepare us for the rigors of conference season," said Murphy.

The first look that NAU fans will get of the basketball team will be on Oct. 29 in an exhibition versus Cal Baptist at home.

NAU will play a total of 13 non-conference games this season. The Lumberjacks first trip will be to the state of Ohio where they will face Xavier (Nov. 14) on FOX College Sports and Toledo (Nov. 16). From there NAU will return to Flagstaff to host Fresno State on Nov. 20 in the home opener.

The Lumberjacks will compete in the Emerald Coast Tournament to round out the month of November. The first and second-round games will be played at on-campus sites Nov. 20 through Nov. 25, with the third round and championship round scheduled Thanksgiving weekend on Nov. 28-29 at Northwest Florida State College in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

On Sunday, Nov. 23 the Lumberjacks will play at Ole Miss — game to be broadcast on the SEC Network. NAU will then play at Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 25 for their second game of the tournament.

The Lumberjacks will then travel to Fort Walton Beach to play Southern University on Nov. 28, and then either Eastern Illinois or North Carolina Central on Nov. 29.

From there, NAU will return home to host UTSA (Dec. 3) and Loyola Marymount (Dec. 13).

The Lumberjacks will begin a three-game road trip at Saint Mary’s (Calif.) on Dec. 16, before heading across the United States to Virginia where NAU will play at Norfolk State (Dec. 19) and Hampton (Dec. 21).

NAU’s final game of 2013 will be at home on Dec. 28 versus San Diego Christian.

"We try to simulate a Big Sky road trip early with the Xavier and Toledo trip," said Murphy. "Then we have the opportunity to play quality opponents both on the road and in a neutral environment. All of which prepares us for the balanced Big Sky."

The Lumberjacks, who finished tied for second in the Big Sky last season with a 12-8 record, will begin conference play on the road at Sacramento State on Jan. 1, with a matchup at Portland State two days later.

NAU’s first Big Sky home game will be on Saturday, Jan. 10 versus Southern Utah. The Lumberjacks will stay at home as they welcome reigning Big Sky champ Weber State (Jan. 15) and Idaho State (Jan. 17) to the Walkup Skydome.

The Lumberjacks three-game conference road swing will begin on Jan. 22 at Montana, followed by games at Montana State (Jan. 24), and Southern Utah (Jan. 31).

The month of February will have four home and four away games for NAU. Northern Colorado (Feb. 5) and North Dakota (Feb. 7) will visit the Walkup Skydome first, before NAU goes to Idaho State (Feb. 12) and Weber State (Feb. 14). The Lumberjacks were the lone team in the conference last season to sweep the Bengal-Wildcat road series.

NAU will welcome the newest member of the Big Sky – Idaho – to the Walkup Skydome on Feb. 19. The Vandals hold a 36-18 advantage over the Lumberjacks in the all-time series. Eastern Washington and NAU will play on Feb. 21.

The Lumberjacks travel to North Dakota (Feb. 26) and Northern Colorado (Feb. 28) in their last conference road games of the season.

The final Big Sky series of the season will be played at home against Portland State (Mar. 5) and Sacramento State (Mar. 7).

Home game times for NAU have yet to be determined.