The Oral Roberts and Summit League Insider pieces will begin running in the Tulsa World next week. So for now, this will have to hold you over…
Men’s news and notes
- Vroom, vroom: It didn’t take long for North Dakota State to assert itself as the Summit League favorite two games into league play. But with a road win at South Dakota State (80-69) and a home triumph over Omaha (82-70), the Bison are now in the driver’s seat in the Summit League.
Against Omaha, Paul Miller played all but one minute and led North Dakota State with 22 points. Carlin Dupree mixed in 18 points, and Dexter Werner provided 17 points and 30 minutes off the bench.
And after shooting 43.6 percent (24 of 55) from the field and 26 of 28 from the foul line, Bison coach Dave Richman found a unique way to describe his team.
“We’re a little bit like NASCAR. We’re not always the prettiest and fastest all the time, but we’ll take it.”
North Dakota State, 10-5 overall this season, will continue Summit League play at home against IUPUI Thursday.
- Beaming for Billups: Denver had its moments last year under coach Joe Scott. The Pioneers avalanched Omaha and North Dakota State at Magness Arena in the Rocky Mountains, and Denver followed those wins up with a repeat performance against Omaha in the Summit League Tournament. In fact, the Pioneers were mere points away from playing for the Summit League crown, but a 54-53 loss to South Dakota State (eventual tournament victor) in the semifinals ended the Pioneers’ season — and Scott’s tenure at the mile-high school.
Enter, Rodney Billups — or maybe better known as Chauncey’s little brother.
Fourteen games into Billups’ first season as Denver’s coach, the Pioneers are 9-5 overall, 1-0 in league play and on the league’s longest winning streak of six games. Oh, and there are smiles everywhere you look in the Pioneers’ locker room.
“We smile a lot more and have fun with each other a lot more,” said sophomore guard Joe Rosga, the Pioneers’ leading scorer at 14.9 points per game. “We have a good feel for each other (and) good chemistry.”
Denver opened Summit League action with a 77-73 win over Oral Roberts, and the Pioneers will play three of their next four league games at home, including Jan. 14 at Magness Arena against North Dakota State. Could be a good chance for Denver to solidify itself atop the Summit League standings.
- Hot Daum!: South Dakota’s Trey Burch-Manning put the Coyotes in position to knock off South Dakota State inside Frost Arena on Saturday with a 3-point play with 11 seconds remaining in the game. That gave South Dakota a 72-71 lead and a chance to come up with a defensive stop to beat the Jackrabbits.
South Dakota State’s Mike Daum converted on a go-ahead layup with 2.8 seconds left, and South Dakota State prevailed with a 73-72 victory when South Dakota’s Matt Mooney half-court heave missed wayward.
“In hindsight, I wish I’d called a timeout to set up our defense,” South Dakota coach Craig Smith said. “He just made a heck of a play. We knew what was coming, (Daum) just kind of overpowered us and put it in.”
Said Daum, who had 30 points: “This one was huge — big for our morale.”
- North Dakota State: The pendulum seems to swing back and forth between NDSU and South Dakota State for league honors. With guys like Paul Miller and A.J. Jacobson, it might be swinging back toward the Bison this year.
- IPFW: Mo Evans is filling it up (18.4 points per game), and he’s got plenty of scoring help with Bryson Scott, John Konchar and Kason Harrell. The Western Illinois loss hurts, but it’s early and can be negated.
- South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits came dangerously close to starting league play 0-2. But with a guy like Mike Daum the losing won’t last long.
- Denver: The signs of a Joe Rosga break-out season were evident during his freshmen tenure last year. It’s happening this year — and along with Rodney Billups as the coach — and the Pioneers are becoming a legitimate threat in the league.
- South Dakota: A win at South Dakota State would have been a gigantic boost to the Coyotes moving forward. Now they have to travel to Denver to try and avoid a sub-.500 record after three league games. After that, the Coyotes will be home for five of their next six games.
- IUPUI: The Jaguars are one of three teams without a conference loss to this point, but it’s extremely early. IUPUI beat Western Illinois soundly, but things get amped up this week against North Dakota State and South Dakota on the road.
- Western Illinois: A stunning victory at IPFW gave way to being routed at IUPUI. The Leathernecks are much improved, but they’ll have to shoot the lights out to win their games, much like the IPFW game.
- Oral Roberts: A winnable game at Denver went by the wayside, and then IPFW ambushed the Golden Eagles to the tune of 20 3-pointer. The Golden Eagles rank last in the league in rebounding margin (minus-2.3) and scoring margin (minus-5.8).
- Omaha: Tre’Shawn Thurman and Tra-Deon Hollins have taken over the reins from Devin Patterson and Jake White, but that hasn’t translated to any league wins yet. Still early, though.