Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men at Oral Roberts, Denver
The Jackrabbits (17-6/7-1 Summit League), the prohibitive pre-season favorites to win the conference's regular-season crown, have used a six-game winning streak to open up a one-game lead in the standings with eight games down and eight to play.
Pre-season player of the year Mike Daum has been the biggest weapon in the Summit League so far, scoring a conference-best 24 points per game while pulling down a league-leading 12 rebounds per contest.
Teammate David Jenkins Jr. is second in the Summit in scoring (20 points per game) and leads the conference with 33 three-pointers.
The Jackrabbit defense has been stingy through the first eight games, limiting opponents to a league-low 41 percent in shooting accuracy while allowing the second-fewest points in the Summit.
SDSU's second half starts at Oral Roberts.
The Golden Eagles (8-15/4-4 Summit League) have been struggling through some injury problems lately which has seen them drop four-of-five.
Leading scorer and rebounder Emmanuel Nzekwesi has missed the last two games but is expected to return to the lineup for the SDSU game.
In his absence, forward Kevin Obanor has been picking up the scoring slack, hitting 50 percent of his shots and putting up 69 points in the last three games.
With Nzekwesi in there, ORU is the top offensive rebounding team in the league.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday (January 31) in Tulsa.
The Jackrabbits won the first meeting, 84-65, in Brookings.
SDSU scored 51 first-half points on 56 percent shooting, as Daum scored 20 of his 37 points in the first 20 minutes. Jenkins Jr. drained four first-half three-pointers.
The Jacks cooled off considerably in the second half, shooting just 38 percent, including just 3-of-14 from long range.
But SDSU forced 19 turnovers, eight coming on Tevin King steals and outscored the Golden Eagles by ten points at the free throw line.
Alex Arians had nine assists for the Jackrabbits.
The Golden Eagles won the rebounding battle by ten as Nzekwesi pulled down 18 boards to go with 14 points.
The SDSU road trip continues in Denver.
The Pioneers (7-15/2-6 Summit League) have been one of the biggest disappointments of the first half.
After being projected third in the pre-season poll, DU opened league play with five straight losses before winning two of their last three.
In those three games, the Pioneers are shooting at a 54 percent clip. In their last game, a loss at Purdue-Fort Wayne, Ronnie Harrell Jr., a transfer from Creighton, scored 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting while Ade Murkey added 21 points, hitting 9-of-16 from the floor.
Senior Joe Rosga is the third DU player to average in double figures in scoring (15 points per game).
Tipoff is 2:00 PM, Sunday in Denver.
The Jackrabbits won the first meeting, 78-66, in Brookings.
SDSU grabbed an 11-point halftime lead after shooting 65 percent in the first 20 minutes. The Jacks drained ten three-pointers, a combined nine from Jenkins and Skyler Flatten. Jenkins' 21 points in the game led South Dakota State.
Denver shot just 32 percent in the second half but did finish the game with 11 offensive rebounds. Rosga led the Pioneers scoring with 16 points.
SDSU outscored DU by 15 points at the free throw line.
Last Thursday (January 24) the Jackrabbits beat North Dakota State 87-69.
SDSU used an early 14-0 run to race out to a 16-3 lead early on the strength of three straight three-pointers from Jenkins. The Jacks buried seven three's in the first half and shot 62 percent from the floor to lead by 19 at intermission.
On the night, South Dakota State dished out 20 assists (Tevin King with 7) and forced 18 turnovers.
Daum led all scorers with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. He added 17 rebounds for his 45th career double-double.
Tyson Ward led the Bison with 18 points and 12 rebounds.
Saturday (January 26), the Jackrabbits found themselves down early in a battle of first-place teams with to Omaha after an 11-0 Maverick run in the first half.
But SDSU used a pair of highlight reel dunks from Daum to put together a 12-0 spurt of their own, taking an eight-point halftime lead after shooting 55 percent in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, UNO twice whittled down a double-digit SDSU lead to a two-possession game, but the Jackrabbits prevailed 83-73, going 4-of-5 in the final five minutes.
Daum finished with 33 points and 16 rebounds. Jenkins added 19 points on the strength of five three-pointers.
KJ Robinson had 23 to lead the Mavericks.
I talked to South Dakota State associate head coach Eric Henderson about last week's games and the match-ups with Oral Roberts and Denver: