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MBB: Jacks shoot to win NCAA Tournament game

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MBB: Jacks shoot to win NCAA Tournament game

Andrew Holtan

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The goal for the South Dakota State men’s basketball team’s 2018-19 season is simple: win a game in the NCAA Tournament.

The Jacks come into the season with three seniors, a junior and a sophomore. The rest of the players on the team are either redshirt freshmen or true freshmen. Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said the team has worked on meshing together the veterans and young guys.

“The [veterans] have taken those [freshmen] under their wing. They’ve demonstrated a lot of leadership, a lot of character,” Otzelberger said. “They’ve been active and stepping in drills and teaching. So I think it’s been a really good dynamic for our team.”

One of the four seniors is forward Mike Daum, who has won Summit League Player of the Year the past two seasons. He was also selected as the 2018-19 Summit League Player of the Year.

Daum, who averaged 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game last season, said he tried to improve his health in the offseason.

“A lot of it was working on my body. I know I did a lot of that last year too, but this year more than anything I just really wanted to focus on getting my weight to where it should be and getting myself in a position to go through another long season,” Daum said.

The other two seniors include shooting guard Tevin King and forward Skyler Flatten.

Brandon Key, who would be a senior will redshirt this season due to a personal matter, according to Otzelberger.

He was granted a sixth year of eligibility. Flatten has struggled with injuries throughout his career, but said he’s playing some of the best basketball of his life right now.

“I feel confident and my teammates keep telling me to be aggressive,” Flatten said. “We all help each other and build each other up. It feels good to be playing some of the best basketball of my career at the beginning of the season and I’m ready to show everyone what I can do.”

The lone sophomore on the team is the 2017-18 Summit League Freshman of the Year, David Jenkins Jr. He averaged 16.1 points per game and broke the SDSU freshman scoring record with 535 points last season. Jenkins said he is trying to avoid a sophomore slump.

“I talk about that all the time with my coaches. It goes back to all the shots I shoot in the offseason. I believe in my work. If I’m getting the shots in, everything will take care of itself,” Jenkins said.

Out of the newcomers, Daum said freshman point guard Owen King has given a notable performance.

“He’s stood out so far with his ability to see the floor like nobody else can. He pushes it on offense,” Daum said.

SDSU has some notable games during the nonconference portion of its schedule. They play Tulane in the first round of the Gulf Coast Showcase Nov. 19 and Northern Iowa Dec. 1 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

The Jacks also travel to Memphis Dec. 4 and will face Nevada, who is ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press preseason top 25, on Dec. 15 in Reno, Nevada.

Otzelberger said he wants to see his team compete at a high level throughout the nonconference part of their schedule.

“We’re going to play some really good teams and we’re not going to go undefeated,” he said. “I want them to learn and grow and get better.”

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MBB: Jacks shoot to win NCAA Tournament game