Men tied for third in Summit with win

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

In a game that was played slicker than a greased pig, the men’s basketball team led the entire way to beat UMKC 78-57 on Feb. 6 at Frost Arena during the 38th annual Pork Classic.

Regardless of the margin of victory, head coach Scott Nagy still felt there was something missing from the Jackrabbits’ performance.

“It just kind of felt like we couldn’t pull away from them,” Nagy said. “I think even after the game, our guys were kind of subdued because they felt like there were some things that they could have done to play better. That’s a good thing.”

UMKC fought back in the second half, cutting a 19-point SDSU lead down to nine with less than five minutes left before the Jacks finished the game on a 16-4 run.

“When we are winning and are not satisfied with how we played, that’s a really good thing, and it’s been a long time since we have been able to be there,” Nagy said. “I give a lot of credit to UMKC because they didn’t quit. We got them down about 20 points and they fought right back.”

Sophomore guard Griffan Callahan came off the bench to add 14 points and a team-high six rebounds in 21 minutes of play. Part of the reason that the Jacks are now a dominating team is because of improved play off the bench, Callahan said.

“I think that’s why we can beat these teams by 20 or more-because we have a deep bench,” Callahan said. “Coach has confidence in all the guys that he brings in. (As a team) we come out with more energy now, and we know that we are better than the team we are going up against.”

SDSU (13-11, 9-4) has only one game this week, and it’s a big one against rival North Dakota State on Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Frost Arena. It has been a series that has not been kind to the Jacks in the past, as the Bison (9-14, 6-7, 6th) have won the past seven, including a 79-67 win in Fargo last month.

“It’s a big game, and I don’t want to say that it’s not, but they all count the same,” Nagy said. “For us, the main thing for me right now is making sure our kids aren’t too hyped. With the big crowd, I want our kids under control emotionally and just playing the basketball game and not letting other things affect how we play.”

Coming down the stretch run with only five games remaining before the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls, the Jacks confidence is at an all-time high. They currently sit at a tie for third with Oral Roberts, and every game here on out is a must-win in an effort to get that third seed and avoid the top seed in Sioux Falls before the championship.

“Going into this season, we were upset we weren’t picked in the top two or three because we had everybody back,” junior guard Dale Moss said. “Especially after the way we have played this year, we know we are right up there. We fully intend to win the conference tournament and win every game from here on out.”