Jackrabbits to open Summit League play in Frost Arena



Trenton Abrego and John Begeman

Fresh off of a momentous win over rival South Dakota, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits men’s basketball team will be back in Frost Arena for a two game homestretch.

In the 79-61 win over the Coyotes, the Jackrabbit zone defense was crucial to stifle the USD offense.

“Night in and night out we’re going to have to make some choices of what we think we can do to make sure to put our defense in the best position to be successful, we will have to decide going into each game what does that,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said in a weekly update.

Senior guard Skyler Flatten led the team in the victory while scoring 20 points.


When the Pioneers (5-13, 0-4) come to Frost Arena, they will be looking to stop a five-game losing streak, four of those came from Summit League foes.

“They are a talented team still trying to find their rhythm. They’ve had some injuries early that have challenged them,” said Otzelberger.

Offensively, the Pioneers haven’t had many shortcomings. As a team, the Pioneers are averaging 68.2 points per game, and have three of the top 20 scorers in the Summit League.

For the Pioneers to win, their 3-pointers have been crucial. In five wins, Denver has made an average of 11 3-pointers shooting at a 44.6 percent clip from beyond the arc.

Both Joe Rosga and Ronnie Harrell Jr. are not afraid to shoot the ball from deep as both have each shot 34 for 84 from 3-point land. As a team the Pioneers rank fourth in the Summit League in 3-point percentage shooting 37.5 percent.

“They got Joe Rosga back, who has been one of the premier guards in the past four years …” Otzelberger said. “They were picked at the top of the league in all the preseason polls, so they have that ability to be that team, but right now you can tell they’re trying to find their identity.”

The Jackrabbits will be back in action against the Pioneers at 7 p.m., Thursday Jan. 10 in Frost Arena.

Oral Roberts

Despite going 4-11 in the nonconference schedule, the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles have started to right the ship as they are off to a hot start in the Summit League.

Oral Roberts have been successful against the Omaha Mavericks, North Dakota Fighting Hawks and Western Illinois.

Redshirt junior Emmanuel Nzekwesi won Summit League honors this past week with a player of the week nomination. This season, Nzekwesi has averaged 16 points per game and 7.9 rebounds per game.

Redshirt freshman Kevin Obanor has also been a solid contributor with an average of 12.2 points per game and 5.9 rebounds per game.

Part of the resurgence of the Golden Eagles in conference play has to do with their improved ability beyond the arc. Oral Roberts has bumped up their 3-point percentage to 44 percent.

Oral Roberts has out-rebounded their Summit League opponents by a plus 11 margin, but have shown their ability to turn the ball over with 13 turnovers per game.

Before facing the Jackrabbits on Saturday, the Golden Eagles will face off with the Mastodons of Fort Wayne for the top spot in the conference.

“They are a challenging matchup, they obviously have a lot more size than most of the teams in our league,” Otzelberger said. “They are athletic in the front line and the interior, their zone defense is unique and not something you don’t play against every night.”

Oral Roberts and South Dakota State will tip off at 4:15 p.m., Jan. 12 at Frost Arena.