Sophomore Alex Arians and the youthful South Dakota State Jackrabbits sit on top of The Summit League standings at the halfway point of their league slate. Picked to finish fifth in the coaches’ preseason poll, first-year head coach Eric Hendeson has SDSU off to a 6-2 start and his squad has won six of its last seven league games, including a 78-73 win over NDSU last Wednesday at Frost Arena that kept them at the top perch.
The Jacks open the second half of the campaign at Oral Roberts on Wednesday in a matchup of the two highest-scoring teams in league play. SDSU is averaging 83.0 ppg while the Golden Eagles are scoring at an 81.7 ppg clip. ORU is one of three Summit League teams still undefeated at home this season, having won each of its eight home tilts to date.
The Golden Eagles are one of four teams nipping at SDSU’s heels to start the week as a win over the Jacks would put ORU within a half-game of the league leaders.
North Dakota State holds a 5-2 record and closes out its first half on Thursday at Western Illinois while South Dakota, who is 5-3, travels to Denver for a matchup against the Pioneers. Omaha returns to action Sunday when the Coyotes come to town as the top games in the Summit this week.
Six of the nine Summit teams sit at .500 or above at the near half-way mark for most teams. The race for the regular season title will likley be interesting the rest of the season as teams jocky for position for the Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D.
See the highlights below for my top two games of the week with SDSU’s win at home in Brookings over NDSU and South Dakota nipping Oral Roberts in Vermillion.
Here are all the league scores from last week:
Wednesday, January 22
SDSU 78, NDSU 73*
Thursday, January 23
South Dakota 83, Purdue Fort Wayne 60
Omaha 87, Western Illinois 82 (OT)
North Dakota 78, Denver 71
Saturday, January 25
NDSU 82, Denver 70
South Dakota 91, Oral Roberts 80
Omaha 75, Purdue Fort Wayne 71
North Dakota 83, Western Illinois 77
Game of the Week
South Dakota State at Oral Roberts
When: Wednesday, Jan. 29, 7:00 PM CST
Where: Mabee Center (11,300), Tulsa, Okla.
SDSU Probable Starters
ORU Probable Starters
South Dakota State Jackrabbits (15-8, 6-2)
SDSU comes to Tulsa having a full week of rest following a five-point home win over NDSU. The Jacks lead the all-time series against ORU 15-9 but ORU holds a 6-4 mark in Tulsa.
The Jackrabbits are headed by Douglas Wilson, who ranks second in the league scoring 17.8 points per tilt, while ranking seventh in rebounds averaging 6.5 a game. Wilson has eight games with at least 20 points this year.
SDSU has won six of seven games so far this month while averaging 83 points per game against Summit League opponents.
The Jacks have claimed six consecutive against ORU. That streak includes a 96-79 victory at home earlier this season. Wilson finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds in that win, while Noah Freidel (23), Matt Dentlinger (18) and Alex Arians (17) were in double figure scoring as well.
Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (11-9, 4-3)
ORU saw its four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday against South Dakota and currently sits fifth in the Summit League standings. The Golden Eagles are averaging 79.5 points per game (81.7 per game in league play) and are led by four double-digit scorers.
Emmanuel Nzekwesi averages just shy of a double-double at 17.1 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, shooting 57.9 percent from the field. He has tallied 10 or more points in all 15 appearances this year and posted seven double-doubles.
Max Abmas and Deondre Burns have started all 20 games and are scoring 15 and 14.2 points per game, respectively. Abmas leads the team with 54 3-pointers, burying 41.5 percent from the field overall. He has added 20 steals and 24 assists. Burns’ 82 assists leads all Golden Eagles, as the guard is shooting 45.3 percent and adding 4.3 rebounds per game.
While SDSU won the first contest in Brookings, ORU has played well at the Mabee Center. The Golden Eagles have not lost this year at home (8-0).
In this year of paradee in the top half of the Summit League, the top team that can beat another top team on the road likely will have the inside track at winning the league.
I just don’t think this will happen with the youthful SDSU squad, who has played much better than expected this year as they sit alone currently atop the league standings.
SDSU, however, will likely not be on top of the standings after this game. Oral Roberts will use the home court advantage and take this one but it will be a game that will be close the whole way. ORU 79 SDSU 74
THIS WEEK’S OTHER SUMMIT LEAGUE GAMES:
Thursday, January 30
South Dakota at Denver* (ALT1) 7:00 PM
North Dakota at Purdue Fort Wayne 7:30 PM
NDSU at Western Illinois* (E+) 7:30 PM
Saturday, February 1
NDSU at Purdue Fort Wayne* 7:00 PM
SDSU at Western Illinois* (E+) 7:00 PM
Denver at Oral Roberts* 7:00 PM
Sunday, February 2
South Dakota at Omaha* (YurView/MSN/E+) 12:00 PM
All times local to site
Originally from LaMoure, North Dakota, Kent is a 1996 graduate of North Dakota State University. His prior writing experience is over 15 years having previously worked with D2football.com, I-AA.org, and College Sporting News before coming to College Sports Journal in 2016. His main focus is college football is the Missouri Valley Football Conference within the Division I FCS. And in 2017, he began also to look at the FBS Group of Five conferences of the American Athletic, Conference USA, Mid-American, Mountain West, and Sun Belt.
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