Men try to keep perfect Summit mark

Denver, Omaha up next for Jackrabbits

Evan Patzwald, Assistant Sports Editor

Fresh off its rivalry win over South Dakota and its 12th straight win overall over the weekend, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team is looking to close out its Summit League schedule and finish strong with three weeks left in the season. 

The Jackrabbits (21-4, 12-0) beat the Coyotes 89-79 last weekend in Vermillion. Even though they only shot nine three-pointers, the Jacks had four players in double figures, led by Douglas Wilson. Wilson had a season-high 25 points, shooting 10-of-15 from the field. Following him was Baylor Scheierman with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Luke Appel with 13 points and Alex Arians chipping in 11. 

“We do have the ability to score in multiple ways,” coach Eric Henderson said. “The three-pointer is something we love to have in our arsenal, but when we shoot them, they’re usually pretty good shots. We want it to continue to be a part of what we are, but more times than not, especially in the last couple weeks, teams have wanted to take that away.”

The Jacks maintained their three-game lead over Oral Roberts for first place in the Summit League standings with six games to go. SDSU will travel to play the Golden Eagles one more time Feb. 24 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

This week, SDSU travels to play the Denver Pioneers Thursday at 8 p.m. and return to Brookings for a three-game homestand, starting with playing Omaha in the Pork Classic Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

Denver (9-17, 5-8) currently sits at seventh place in the conference standings, two games ahead of Omaha for the final spot to qualify for the Summit League Tournament. The Pioneers last game was an eight-point loss to North Dakota State. They trailed by two late in the second half before an 8-2 run by the Bison put the game away. 

KJ Hunt is the leading scorer on the team, averaging 15.3 points per game, followed by Jordan Johnson with 11.2 points. In their matchup Jan. 15, The Jacks won 80-62 after a dominant first half got them out to such a large lead. Hunt had 18 points, five rebounds and five assists in the contest. Arians had his best game of the season in the win, pacing the Jackrabbits with 19 points, shooting 6-for-12 and 5-for-8 from three-point range. 

The Omaha Mavericks (4-20, 3-10) are a better team than their record shows. Five of their Summit League losses came by a margin of seven or less points. Last week, the Mavericks suffered both of their losses by seven points from North Dakota State 64-71 and North Dakota 85-92. North Dakota’s win over Omaha was their first conference win of the season. They were 0-11 prior. The Jacks narrowly escaped Grand Forks, North Dakota, with a win last Monday as well, winning 70-64.

The Denver game will be broadcast on the radio on the Jackrabbit Sports Network, while the Omaha matchup can be seen on Midco Sports Network along with the Jackrabbit Sports Network.