Jacks beat rival Bison, prepare for Coyotes


Joclyn Haven

Zeke Mayo drives past Jacari White in the Jacks’ 90-85 win over the Bison Feb. 4. Mayo had a career-high 41 points, shooting 14-of-25 from the field, 6-of-9 from 3-point range and played all 40 minutes.

Marshall Minihan, Sports Reporter

​​After going 2-0 at home last week, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team looks to finish its three-game home stint against in-state rival South Dakota.

“Our guys are getting more comfortable with the way we are playing, and it’s been a little bit different than years past,” coach Eric Henderson said. “We try to create opportunities for all of our guys and create that confidence in them and have them understand that we believe in them.”

The Jackrabbits (14-11, 9-4 Summit League) currently sit in second place in the Summit League standings, behind 12-0 Oral Roberts and in front of 8-5 Western Illinois.

The Jacks currently average 69.9 points per game with star sophomore guard Zeke Mayo averaging nearly twenty of those points (18.1).

Mayo was named the Lou Henson National Award Player of the Week for his performances last week. The Kansas native dropped a career-high 41 points against the Bison Saturday in SDSU’s 90-85 win.

“I try to play off my teammates,” said Mayo in a post-game press conference on Saturday. “In practice, they (coaches) try and install into my head ‘we want the ball in your hands,’ so I work on stuff like this but at the end of the day it’s all trust from my coaches and teammates.”

Mayo and the Jackrabbits now look ahead to USD. The Coyotes (11-14, 6-7) are currently seventh in the Summit League after losing to last-place North Dakota by 14 points in their previous outing.

They currently average 68.9 points per game, while allowing 73.8 points per game and have been outscored by their opponents all season.

Kruz Perrott-Hunt leads them in scoring, averaging 14.1 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Damani Hayes leads in rebounding with 6.9 a game while AJ Plitzuweit has the most assists per game with 2.5.

The two teams last played Jan. 14, where the Jacks outscored USD in both halves, winning the game 82-64.

Before their matchup with the Coyotes, the Jacks played North Dakota Feb. 2 in Brookings where the Jacks never let the Fighting Hawks take the lead, with the final score being 96-73.

Wisconsin-transfer Matthew Mors led the Jacks in scoring with 24 points, going 8-9 on field goals.

“It’s as relaxed as he’s looked,” Henderson said of Mors after the game. “I thought he took advantage of the opportunities that North Dakota was giving him.”

Mayo showed his versatility on both sides of the ball during the game, leading SDSU in both rebounds and assists, finishing with six assists and 10 rebounds to go along with 14 points.

The Jackrabbits shot well throughout the game, with a field goal percentage of 61.7% while shooting an impressive 58.3% from the three-point line.

For UND, Tsotne Tsartsidze not only played the most minutes but also led the team in rebounds with 10 and points with 18. B.J. Omot finished the game with 17 points, five rebounds and three assists while shooting 6-12 on the night.

But the Fighting Hawks struggled throughout the game, shooting 43.8% on field goals, 31.3% on three-pointers and 63.6% from the free-throw line. The Hawks also struggled with rebounds, getting out-rebounded 37-25.

Following their blowout win, the Jacks hosted North Dakota State two days later in a more high-contested game.

In a game with seven lead changes, the Jackrabbits edged North Dakota State 90-85. The Bison are currently tied in fifth place with Kansas City in the Summit League standings with an even record of 6-6 in conference play.

Along with the 41 points, Mayo played all 40 minutes, shot 56% from the field and 6-9 from behind the arc. He also hit seven of his eight free throws.

Matt Dentlinger finished with 17 points and five rebounds shooting 7-12 from the field while William Kyle III shot 6-6 from the field and had eight rebounds and three blocks.

SDSU took advantage of NDSU’s 10 turnovers by converting them into 16 points, while the Jacks only had a pair of turnovers coming from Kyle III and Dentlinger.

NDSU’s Grant Nelson led the Bison with 27 points, 15 rebounds and two assists. A pair of Bison, Damari Wheeler-Thomas and Jacari White, both scored in double figures.

The Bison got their team involved, with 15 assists throughout the game with nearly a third coming from Wheeler-Thomas.

Though they led at halftime, the Bison could not hold on to their slim lead for the rest of the game, allowing the Jacks to score 49 points in the second half.

“What a fun weekend we had in Frost Arena beating North Dakota and North Dakota State,” Henderson said. “On to the next and we’re super excited to have another great environment and bring in the Coyotes.”