Redshirt freshman Mike Daum scored 23 points to lead South Dakota State University past rival University of South Dakota 79-75 Saturday night as Jackrabbit Coach Scott Nagy won the 400th game of his career.
The prospect of Nagy getting that milestone victory looked doubtful early on as USD took control in the first half. The Coyotes built an 11-point lead midway through the half to the delight of many of the 4,832 spectators at the DakotaDome.
But a charge late in the first half that spilled over into the first few minutes of the second half got SDSU back in the game.
Daum, who also had a game-high 11 rebounds and went 4-of-4 from three, was quick to share the credit for the win.
“I have to give credit to our guards for finding me off the pick and roll,” Daum said.
Daum won Summit League Player of the Week after averaging 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench in two games last week. Daum was the first ever SDSU freshman to get player of the week honors.
“Great win for us,” Nagy said, who is in his 21st season at SDSU. “I basically told the players that 400 [wins in his career] just means I’ve been fortunate to coach this long.”
With the win, SDSU improved to 16-5 overall and 5-2 in the Summit League. USD fell to 10-11 overall and 2-5 in the league.
Jake Bittle, playing in his second game back after missing a month because of a knee injury, scored 21 points for the Jacks. He and Daum combined to score 30 points in the second half as SDSU outscored the Coyotes 51-43 during that span.
“It was really the Daum and Bittle show in the second half,” USD Head Coach Craig Smith said.
Nagy was just happy to see Bittle, a senior from Bixby, Okla, back and contributing.
“It was huge of him, and I was surprised that he was able to play 30 minutes with it being only his second game back,” Nagy said.
The teams combined for a total of 58 fouls, but the coaches held opposing views of what that meant for the game.
“I don’t really mind as long as they are consistent, and I thought they were,” Nagy said.
The Jackrabbits will return home to Frost Arena this Thursday night to face the top team in the Summit League, the University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks. They are a game ahead of SDSU and IUPUI in the standings.
Omaha comes into the game with an overall record of 14-7 and 6-1 in the Summit League. They average a league best 85.1 points a game, which makes them the eighth highest scoring team in the country. On the other side of the ball, they give up a league worst 78.7 points a game, which is 311th in the country.
The Mavericks are led by senior guard Devin Patterson, who averages 17.6 points a game. Senior forward Jake White is not far behind Patterson as he averages 17 points a game. Junior guard Tra-Deon Hollins is Omaha’s top defensive weapon as he leads the nation in steals, averaging 4.3 per game.
The Jackrabbits are led by a senior guard as well. Deondre Parks leads the team, averaging 16.1 points a game. His counterpart in the backcourt, senior George Marshall, averages 14.6 per game.
Omaha was not as impressive as SDSU in the non-conference season as they went 8-6 while the Jacks went 11-3. The Mavericks did however have a couple of close losses to teams that SDSU beat including a 93-90 loss to Minnesota and a 60-59 loss to UC-Santa Barbara, both of whom the Jacks handled with ease. They did however defeat University of Missouri-Kansas City, who was one of the three teams that beat SDSU in the non-conference with a score of 95-89 in overtime.
Omaha is in their first year of postseason play in Division I. They finished eighth out of nine teams last year in the Summit League and were predicted to finish seventh this year.
This will be SDSU’s toughest home challenge to date. The Jackrabbits have won 24 in a row at Frost Arena and are 57-3 in their last 60 home games dating back to the beginning of the 2011-12 season. Omaha is one of those three teams that have earned a win at Frost Arena in that time.
There is no doubt that the Jackrabbit Nation will be ready to make some noise when first place is on the line Thursday.