Jacks win back to back: Team looks ahead to No. 9 Arkansas after 2 straight wins

Evan Patzwald, Co-Sports Editor (He/Him)

After two exciting games to start the season, SDSU men’s basketball team has a packed week ahead as they head to Arkansas Nov. 16 before returning home to face Stephen F. Austin Nov. 19.

On the back end of a back-to-back, the Jacks (2-1) will play No. 9 Arkansas out of the SEC Wednesday night. 

The Razorbacks went 28-9 last season and advanced to the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Duke. Arkansas was slated to finish second in the SEC behind Kentucky. Arkansas brought in the second-ranked recruiting class this season with three five-star freshmen on the roster. The Razorbacks are 2-0 this season with wins over NDSU and Fordham.

Rounding out its schedule will be the Jacks’ first home game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. The Lumberjacks were picked to finish third out of the WAC conference behind GCU and New Mexico State. SF Austin is 2-0 with wins over LeTourneau, a DIII school, and Gardner-Webb. 

The Jacks are 2-1 this season, most recently beating St. Bonaventure 66-62 Tuesday night. Last week, they dropped their first game in an 81-80 OT thriller at Akron Nov. 7 and then survived another tight contest Nov. 9, picking up a 68-66 win at Boise State. 

Through three games, the Jacks have a combined plus five-point differential, with wins of two and four points and a one-point loss. 

In its game against Akron, SDSU had a six-point advantage over the Zips heading into the halftime break. In the second half, Akron played back into the game and had a chance to win the game at the buzzer with a fast break layup after a turnover from Alex Arians. The ball just rolled off the rim and the game went into overtime. 

In the overtime, the teams traded baskets and were tied at 80 with 16 seconds left after a layup from Arians. Then, with two seconds remaining, Greg Tribble was fouled by Arians and made one of two free throws to take a one-point advantage and the victory. 

Freshman William Kyle III played well, finishing with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting in his debut. Matt Dentlinger led the team in scoring with 15 points and six rebounds. Three other players finished in double figures with Zeke Mayo having 13, Arians having 12 and Charlie Easley putting up 11. 

Nov. 9, the Jacks were back in action playing the defending Mountain West regular season champions, Boise State. It was another tight contest that ended with a game-winning layup from Dentlinger with one second left in the game. Dentlinger had a team-high in scoring again with 19 points, followed by Mayo with 13 points.

Most recently, the Jacks grinded out a four-point victory over St. Bonaventure 66-62 Tuesday night. Dentlinger continued his strong play with 16 points, shooting 4-for-5 from the field. Luke Appel made his season debut in the game, scoring eight points. 

SDSU is back in action at 7 p.m. Wednesday night on the road against Arkansas.