BROOKINGS – It was a typical performance for the SDSU men’s basketball team at Frost Arena Saturday. Get out to a lead, the road team gets back in it and the Jackrabbits take control in the second half.
SDSU won its 21st-straight game and this time their victim was the Omaha Mavericks. The Jacks jumped out to a 21-8 lead eight minutes into the game and it looked like they were going to run away with a victory. SDSU led 30-20 with 8:25 left in the first half and Omaha went on a 13-3 run to tie the game. The Jacks then went on a 8-0 run in the final two minutes of the half and took a 40-33 lead into the locker room.
“We got out to a great start and it was mostly because of [the fans],” SDSU head coach Eric Henderson said. “… We had a little lull there in the first half, but that 7-0 run to end the first half was really important to us and got the momentum back.”
The Jackrabbits momentum continued in the first five minutes of the second half as their lead grew to 16. SDSU’s lead grew to as much as 21 as they cruised to a 81-64 victory and improved to 18-8 overall and 9-2 in the Summit League.
SDSU was led by Douglas Wilson who had 24 points, eight rebounds and five blocks. The Jacks’ other forward also had a big game. Matt Dentlinger finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Wilson has now scored in double figures in all but two games this season. He is averaging 17.9 points per game which is tied for third in the conference. He is shooting 60.7% from the field which is second in the Summit League only behind Dentlinger who is shooting 62.1%. Dentlinger has scored in double figures in eight of the last 10 games.
Omaha head coach Darrin Hansen said Wilson and Dentlinger tough to match up against, but they do damage in different ways.
“Doug is so quick. He’s elusive, he can get it and he can drive it at you and can go side to side. Matt can bang you and bang you and get to a spot for a two or three foot jump shot. Not that Wilson doesn’t do that, but they definitely go at it in different ways and that puts pressure on which ever post is guarding them. When you get shots at the paint like they did, and then of course you have [Alex] Arians doing all the stuff that he does, a lot of points are coming from the paint and that makes a big difference,” Hansen said.
Arians, who moved to point guard at the beginning of Summit League play, finished with 19 points and three assists. Arians has now scored in double figures in four of the last five games.
“We play through our post a lot and teams have to make some tough choices with how they’re going to guard our guys down there. Are they going to double team us or are they going to dig or are they going to play one on one. For the most part tonight they were playing one on one and they started digging off of Alex early and he made them pay and got off to a really good start making those two three’s.
“To be honest with you, ever since we started playing Alex at point guard, he’s impacted the game in a lot of different ways. Obviously 19 points tonight, which was a great performance, but he’s had nights where he had nine points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. So he’s able and is affecting the game in multiple ways and I’m really proud of the way he’s playing,” Henderson said.
Omaha (12-13, 5-5) was led by KJ Robinson who had 20 points. Marlon Ruffin had 14 points and four rebounds. Matt Pile had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds. JT Gibson had 9 points and Wanjang Tut had six.
SDSU now has five games left. They sit at 9-2 and are tied for first place in the Summit League with North Dakota State and are a game ahead of South Dakota. They host Denver at 7 p.m. Friday and Purdue Fort Wayne at 2 p.m. Sunday. They will then travel to North Dakota on Feb. 19th before hosting South Dakota on Feb. 23rd. The Jacks will close out the regular season at NDSU on Feb. 27th.
The Jacks would like to get a top-two seed in the Summit League Tournament because the top-two seeds play their first game on Saturday and then get a day off before the semifinals if they win. Henderson said his team has to clean some things up if they want to remain in one of the top-two spots.
“There’s a long ways to go yet. Obviously we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves and just play one game at a time. … We need to continue to play unselfish. We’ve turned the basketball over the last couple weeks at a level that is going to catch up to us if we’re no careful. So we got to make sure we’re taking care of the basketball better and not giving up as many second-chance points. If we can clean that up those two areas, not clean up, but just get better, I think you can see this team continue to make strides,” Henderson said.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 81, OMAHA 64
Omaha (12-13, 5-5)
KJ Robinson 5-13 7-8 20, Marlon Ruffin 6-10 0-0 14, Matt Pile 4-8 2-7 10, JT Gibson 2-7 4-4 9, Wanjang Tut 3-7 0-0 6, Zach Thornhill 1-7 0-0 3, Kyle Luedtke 1-4 0-0 2, Ayo Akinwole 0-4 0-0 0, Hayden Miller 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 22-60 13-19 64.
South Dakota State (18-8, 9-2)
Douglas Wilson 9-18 6-6 24, Alex Arians 7-9 2-3 19, Matt Dentlinger 3-9 2-5 10, Noah Freidel 1-4 2-2 5, Matt Mims 1-1 0-0 3, Baylor Scheierman 0-3 1-2 1, Brandon Key 0-0 0-0 0, Alou Dillon 0-2 0-0 0, Beau Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Fiegen 0-0 0-0 0, Owen King 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-58 14-20 81.
Halftime – 40-33 SDSU. 3-point field goals – OMAHA 7-18 (Ruffin 2-3, Robinson 3-5, Thornhill 1-2, Gibson 1-5, Luedtke 0-1, Miller 0-1, Tut 0-1), SDSU 7-15 (Mims 1-1, Arians 3-4, Freidel 1-3, Scheierman 0-1, Dillon 0-1). Rebounds – OMAHA 32 (Pile 12), SDSU 39 (Wingett 8). Assists – OMAHA 11 (Robinson, Thornhill 3), SDSU 22 (Freidel 5). Steals – OMAHA 8 (Tut, Thornhill 2), SDSU 9 (Dentlinger 4). Blocks – OMAHA 2 (Tut), SDSU 8 (Wilson 5). Turnovers – OMAHA 20, SDSU 18. Total fouls – OMAHA 17, SDSU 20. Fouled out – SDSU Wilson. Technical fouls – OMAHA Ruffin, SDSU Wilson. A – 3,845.