WEEKLY NOTEBOOK: No. 8
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The Holiday break is in the rearview mirror and that means Summit League play is upon us. Only a couple of non-conference tune-ups remain, but the majority of the league's nine programs will jump into league play on Sunday as a trio of match-ups get things started.
South Dakota State and first-year head coach Erik Henderson will begin their quest for a third-straight regular-season title at Omaha in a matchup between the top two finishers from a year ago that will air on ESPN+. Preseason favorite North Dakota State will also get things underway Sunday in a tilt vs. Denver on Altitude2 while South Dakota, who shares the league-lead with nine non-conference wins travels to Western Illinois.
PROTECT OUR HOUSES
Summit League teams combined to go 43-10 on their home courts during non-conference play and four teams went unblemished. Eight of South Dakota State's nine non-conference wins came at Frost Arena where the Jackrabbits have won 16 straight dating back to last season. Omaha also has a double-digit homecourt winning streak dating back to last season as the Mavericks have won 12 straight at Baxter Arena. Oral Roberts (6-0) and North Dakota (3-0) round out the quartet of teams unbeaten on their home court.
With a 77-54 victory over Niagara last week, Purdue Fort Wayne's Jon Coffman became the second Summit League coach this season to reach the century mark in career victories.
Earlier this season, NDSU went 2-1 at the Islander Invitational and the Bison's second victory in Corpus Christi provided head coach Dave Richman with his 100th career victory at the school. The only other coach with at least 100 wins with his current team is Omaha's Derrin Hansen, who has reeled off 229 career wins at the helm of the Mavericks.
OMAHA, NORTH DAKOTA NET ELUSIVE WINS
It had been nearly two years since a Summit League team had defeated a program from a "Power 5" conference, but Omaha and North Dakota both changed that during non-conference play. The Mavericks picked up the first one with an 85-77 victory at Washington State (Nov. 21). UND followed suit a month later, defeating Nebraska 75-74 (Dec. 21).
Purdue Fort Wayne was the last league team to accomplish the feat, knocking off Indiana on Dec. 18, 2017. Before the Mavericks win over the Cougars, almost eight years had passed since a Pac-12 team fell victim to a Summit League foe. SDSU got that win in December of 2011 when the Jackrabbits defeated Washington in Seattle.
AHEAD IN THE SUMMIT LEAGUE
Saturday, December 28
Oral Roberts at Brigham Young (BYUTV) 8:00 PM
Sunday, December 29
South Dakota at Western Illinois* 4:30 PM
SDSU at Omaha* (YurView/MSN/E+) 4:30 PM
NDSU at Denver* (ALT2) 4:30 PM
North Dakota at Oregon State (Pac-12) 5:00 PM
Wednesday, January 1
South Dakota at Purdue Fort Wayne* 2:00 PM
Thursday, January 2
Western Illinois at NDSU* (MSN/E+) 7:00 PM
North Dakota at Denver* (ALT2) 8:00 PM
Oral Roberts at SDSU* (MSN2/E+) 8:15 PM
Saturday, January 4
Western Illinois at SDSU* (MSN/E3) 4:15 PM
Oral Roberts at Omaha* 7:00 PM
Sunday, January 5
Denver at South Dakota* 3:30 PM
Purdue Fort Wayne at North Dakota* (MSN/E+) 4:30 PM
All times local to site | *Summit League game
NOTING THE PIONEERS
• The Pioneers will play three of their first four Summit League games at Magness Arena.
• DU was the odd team out a season ago as the Pios did not advance to The Summit League Championship after going 3-13 in league play.
• All three of their league wins did come at home and DU went 3-3 at home during non-conference play.
• The opener will be a tough one, however, as preseason favorite North Dakota State visits for a Sunday afternoon affair on Dec. 29.
• Senior Ade Murkey and sophomore Jase Townsend are poised to make sure the team does not suffer a similar fate.
• Both players rank among the top 10 in scoring entering league play with Murkey sitting eighth, owning a 14.7 ppg average, while Townsend is ninth at 14.6 ppg.
NOTING THE FIGHTING HAWKS
• The Fighting Hawks are one of two league teams that have a post-Christmas tune-up before starting Summit League play.
• UND plays at Oregon State on Sunday, Dec. 29 before traveling to Denver for its league opener on Jan. 2.
• The Hawks took momentum into the Christmas break thanks to a 75-74 victory over the Big Ten's Nebraska on Dec. 21. It marked the first win over a "Power 5" program since UND made the move to the Division I level prior to the 2008-09 season.
• Senior Marlon Stewart earned his first weekly honor and is averaging a team-best 15.2 ppg (t-6th among Summit League players) and a league-best 4.8 apg.
• UND went 6-10 in league play during its first season as a Summit League member in 2018-19.
NOTING THE BISON
• The Bison, who won the 2019 Summit League Championship as the No. 4 seed, begin their league slate at Denver on Dec. 29.
• The tilt with the Pioneers will be the first of three road tests for NDSU, who was picked to win the regular-season title in the league's preseason poll.
• Senior Tyson Ward turned in a solid final week of non-conference play, averaging a double-double (22.0 ppg/11.0 rpg) as the Bison beat Montana State at home and lost at Marquette.
• Ward went for 19 points in the win over the Bobcats and had a season-high 25 points in the loss to the Golden Eagles.
• Senior Vinnie Shahid led the way in the win over MSU with 24 points. It was his team-leading fourth 20-plus point game of the season.
• Shahid (15.2 ppg) and Ward (13.7 ppg) are both scoring at career-high clips entering league play.
NOTING THE MAVERICKS
• The Mavericks bounced back from a tough loss at Eastern Washington with a home win over Montana as they split a pair of matchups against Big Sky foes in their final two non-conference tune-ups.
• It took overtime, but Omaha outlasted the Griz 87-82 as Matt Pile posted another double-double (his sixth of the season) with 13 points and 16 rebounds while J.T. Gibson (22) and K.J. Robinson (24) both scored 20-plus in the win.
• Pile leads all Division I players with 161 rebounds and is averaging 10.7 rpg.
• Omaha won 12 Summit League games a season ago to finish second and will open league play against reigning regular-season champ South Dakota State at home on Dec. 29.
NOTING THE GOLDEN EAGLES
• The Golden Eagles entered the Christmas break with the first four-game winning streak in head coach Paul Mills' tenure with the program.
• The latest victory was an 82-72 victory over Missouri State. Preseason All-Summit League picks Kevin Obanor (19-13) and Emmanuel Nzekwesi (12-11) both had double-doubles while freshman Max Abmas led the way in scoring with 22 against the Bears.
• Abmas is the league's top-scoring freshman with a 13.9 ppg clip.
• ORU does have one more non-conference game before commencing Summit League play as the Golden Eagles travel to BYU Saturday, Dec. 28 for a tilt with the Cougars.
• They will travel from Provo to Brookings for their first league matchup against reigning regular-season champion South Dakota State on Jan. 4.
NOTING THE MASTODONS
• The Mastodons will bring in the New Year with their Summit League opener as South Dakota visits for a Jan. 1 clash in Fort Wayne.
• Sophomore Jarred Godfrey leads all Division I players in minutes played so far this season, cracking the 500-minute mark in non-conference play.
• Godfrey has been the Mastodons' most consistent player, averaging 15.9 ppg, which leads all underclassmen in The Summit League.
• Godfrey went for 17 in a loss at Iowa State this past Sunday.
• Purdue Fort Wayne earned the No. 3 seed with a 9-7 league record a year ago. This will be the Mastodons final season as a league member.
NOTING THE COYOTES
• The Coyotes enter the break suffering back-to-back losses for just the second time this season.
• Senior Tyler Hagedorn scored 29 points - the third time he's reached at least that total in a game this seaon - in a 78-75 loss to Kansas City on Sunday. The Roos hit a 3-pointer with two seconds to play to defeat their future Summit League foe.
• Hagedorn continues to lead all Summit League players in scoring (17.4 ppg) and 3-point field goal percentage (55.2).
• The Yotes played their last seven games without senior point guard Triston Simpson and posted just a 3-4 mark in those contests. USD went 6-1 in games Simpson played prior to his injury.
• Picked to finish second in the preseason poll, the Yotes open league play at WIU at Dec. 29.
NOTING THE JACKRABBITS
• The Jackrabbits finished off non-conference play by sweeping a three-game homestand and registering double-digit victories in all three of those contests.
• JUCO All-American Douglas Wilson continued his seamless transition to the Division I level. He has reached double figures in 13 of 15 games and averaged 18.0 ppg during the sweep of the latest three-game homestand.
• He will enter league play with the second-highest scoring average among league players (16.7 ppg) and is shooting 61.3 percent from the floor.
• Alex Arians has started to find his scoring groove, reaching double figures in three of his last four (11.5 ppg).
• The Jacks have won back-to-back regular-season titles and start a quest for their third at Omaha on Dec. 29.
NOTING THE LEATHERNECKS
• The Leathernecks snapped a three-game skid with a 91-64 victory over Holy Family in what was their final non-conference tune-up.
• Sophomore Ben Pyle has reached double figures in four straight and led the way with 20 against Holy Family.
• Pyle finished non-conference play going 22-for-22 from the foul stripe and making 47.5 percent of his 3-point attempts (third among league players). He is averaging 14.1 ppg.
• Junior Kobe Webster is the team's leading scorer - a title he has held each of his three seasons with the Leathernecks. He enters league play averaging 16.0 ppg.
• The Leathernecks are one of five teams in Division I shooting better than 80 percent from the charity stripe (80.2; fourth).
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