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Northern Michigan University Wildcats men’s basketball team to play 1st home game of season following long trip to Alaska

Bay College’s Luke Mattson, right, a Negaunee High School graduate, shoots over Northern Michigan University’s Naseer Turner, center, while the Wildcats' Marcus Krachinski looks on during their exhibition game played in Escanaba on Oct. 24. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Austin Hemmingson)

MARQUETTE — For the first time this season, the Northern Michigan University men’s basketball team will play on its home court after six games touring the country.

Last weekend, the Wildcats traveled about as far away as they ever will while competing in the Seawolf Thanksgiving Classic in Anchorage, Alaska. They were joined by Michigan Tech at this event.

NMU had a good weekend in the Last Frontier, blowing out Alaska-Fairbanks on Friday by 50 points, their largest margin of victory over an opponent since 1990, then making a furious second-half comeback Saturday before ultimately falling to host Alaska-Anchorage.

Northern head coach Matt Majkrzak was in good spirits Tuesday as he reflected positively on the trip.

“I think that’s kind of been like that all season with the ups and downs of one good game and one bad game,” he said of his 3-3 team. “The nice part was that this bad game (on Saturday) was better. We battled back.

“Anchorage is really good and they hit 10 3s in the first half. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to be ahead at halftime when a team hits 10 3s and I think the message at halftime was we needed to play better to keep it more manageable. We weren’t going to be winning with how well they played, but we needed to keep it a bit closer.

“Then obviously after the game, that showed that maybe if we had hung in there a little bit better and survived that barrage of 3s a little bit better, we probably would’ve been able to pull it off in the second half.

“But I was proud we bounced back. That was a really good Anchorage team and I thought we played maybe our best half, the second half against Anchorage, the whole year.

“We played really, really well (Friday). Obviously, (the Nanooks are) not as strong of a team as some of the other teams we’ve played, but they beat (Michigan) Tech for 33 or 34 minutes the following night.”

Now the Wildcats have not only their first home game of the season on Thursday afternoon, but also their GLIAC opener as they take on Northwood (4-2). Northern hosts Saginaw Valley State (4-2) on Saturday afternoon. Both opponents are on four-game winning streaks.

“Northwood is very athletic,” Majkrzak said. “They have two guards who are returners who were really good last year and are starting the year off really hot.

“I’m just hoping for a ton of energy and a ton of excitement. I think if we do that, hopefully, the results take care of themselves.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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