By Paul Freelend
UNO men’s basketball will have an opportunity to claim yet another win over a nationally-ranked foe when North Central Conference leader and No. 16 South Dakota State comes to the Sapp Fieldhouse tonight.
Tipoff for the Maverick-Jackrabbit men’s game is set for 8 p.m. UNO will face Augustana Saturday at 8 p.m.
Maverick head coach Kevin McKenna said the game against SDSU presents an opportunity for his team to establish itself as a contender for the conference title.
“This is a big game for the team,” McKenna said. “South Dakota State is the league leader and in order for us to challenge for a league title, we need to show that we can play with them. This game will give us a chance to do that.”
SDSU enters the contest with a record of 13-2 (7-0 NCC). In addition to their No. 16 national ranking, the Jackrabbits hold the top spot in the North Central region rankings, while UNO is third.
McKenna said that SDSU’s size and depth on the bench will pose problems not yet seen by the Mavericks this season.
“I think we match up well with [SDSU’s] starting five,” McKenna said. “They do bring in a couple extra big guys off of the bench, so our big guys will have to be ready for that. SDSU’s strengths are in their size and their depth. They will have a deeper bench than most of the ones we’ve faced so far and their rebounding margin is around plus-14, which would put them among the leaders even in Division I.”
Augustana is 9-6 (2-5) and will play at Northern Colorado before making the trek east to challenge the Mavericks on Saturday.
McKenna was quick to point out UNO’s performance against Minnesota-Mankato as an example of the dangers of focusing on just one game during a conference weekend.
“We can’t just focus on one game,” McKenna said. “We saw what happened when we do that in Mankato. There really are no easy games in this league. You have to bring your ‘A’ game every night and be ready for a battle.”
“Augustana is a team that shoots the ball from the perimeter very well. They can get hot very quickly from out there, so you have to be careful. They also have a good mix of players, so we have to be ready to get out to defend the perimeter and rebound well.”
UNO women to face SDSU, Augie
Maverick head coach Lisa Carlsen and her team will look to break into the top half of the NCC standings as they take on conference leader SDSU and Augustana this weekend.
UNO currently sits at 6-12 (2-5 NCC). SDSU leads the NCC with a 15-3 (5-2) record while Augustana is 7-8 (2-5). Both of UNO’s games will tip off at 6 p.m. at the Sapp Fieldhouse.