Daum and Jenkins Jr. lead men with impressive season start

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After going 2-1 in the Cayman Islands Classic, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team defeated Mississippi 99-97 in overtime in Oxford, Mississippi Tuesday night.

The Jacks gave up a 20-point lead, but were able to hang on in overtime behind Mike Daum’s 26 points and seven rebounds.

The Jacks fell to Wyoming in the first game of the Cayman Islands Classic 77-65, but bounced back with a 80-72 win over Iowa and defeated Buffalo 94-80 in the final game of the tournament.

The Jacks will face the Missouri State Bears Dec. 2 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. The Bears are 6-2 and are coming off of a 77-67 victory against Colorado State. MSU was picked first in the Missouri Valley preseason poll.

“The Bears are a tremendous defensive team,” said head coach T.J. Otzelberger. “They really guard well and are physical, rebounding wise. There’s a reason they were picked to win their league.”

The Bears have a balanced attack with five guys scoring more than seven points a game. MSU is led by Alize Johnson, who is tallying 14.7 points and 10.7 rebounds per game. Johnson was named the Preseason Missouri Valley Player of the Year and is thought of by scouts as a future NBA player.

“He’s a physical athlete who can score in a lot of ways and rebound at a high level,” Otzelberger said. “So we’re going to have to be locked in because that’s going to be a heck of a challenge.”

Mike Daum is leading SDSU, scoring 17.9 points per game, but the surprise of the season has been freshman guard David Jenkins Jr., who scored a career-high 23 points in the win against Iowa. Jenkins is averaging 13.8 points per game, shooting 43 percent from the field and 45 percent from three. Otzelberger said Jenkins is shooting the ball so well because of his mentality.

“He’s played against really good players his whole life. So I think he really likes the big moment and steps up. To score 23 as freshman against a good Iowa team is tremendous,” Otzelberger said.

SDSU switched its starting lineup in the Cayman Islands. They started junior Tevin King at the point guard position and he did not disappoint. King scored 26 points, had five assists, six steals and grabbed 13 rebounds in the two wins. Otzelberger said he was very pleased with King’s performance.

“He did a phenomenal job,” Otzelberger said. “He’s the heart and soul of our team. He’s a warrior and a winner. To come out in his first game starting at point guard and be able to bring home a win against a team like Iowa says a lot about him as a player.”

The Jacks are now 7-2 on the season which is a much better start than last year when they were 3-6 at this point in the season. Otzelberger said the team doesn’t gauge the Jacks progress with wins and losses.

“We go into every game with the mindset that we want to win and do everything in our power to make sure that happens,” he said. “But at the same time, as we move forward and continue to grow, we need to come together and keep building and have different guys on different nights step up.”

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