The story was all too familiar last Tuesday evening. The opposition came out with a strong start, and Omaha trailed for the rest of the game. Led by the elite Mike Daum, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits again defeated the Omaha Mavericks by a score of 80 to 60.
This would be the 17th straight home game that the Jackrabbits have won, which makes it the fifth best in the country among active streaks. Daum totaled 35 points and a whopping 18 boards, taking 28 attempts at the basket.
“Mike was sensational,” said Jackrabbits Head Coach TJ Otzelberger after the game. “He’s a heck of a matchup… for anybody, one-on-one.”
The focus for Omaha was on taking away the 3-point shots but, as UNO Head Coach Derrin Hansen said, “When you do that, then it opens up the paint.” The Jackrabbits have shot well from the three all year long, causing headaches in the Summit League. And indeed, as the game went on, South Dakota State pounded the interior, scoring 46 points in the paint.
Freshman Matt Pile was the Maverick tasked with the inglorious duty of guarding Daum one-on-one, after starting forward Lamar Wofford-Humphrey injured his knee earlier in the week. Pile managed six boards and two blocks.
Injuries have been the cause of many woes for Omaha this year – the starting lineup (featuring KJ Robinson, Norl, Zach Jackson, Mitch Hahn and Pile) was the sixth different starting lineup for the team this year.
When asked about the Mavericks’ 60 points, Hansen compared it to other years. “Our possessions… are longer than probably our possessions in the last four, five, six years.” Known for running a fast offense from year to year, those same injuries have slowed down Omaha’s otherwise high-scoring offense.
All in all, Omaha was limited to just 19 percent shooting from beyond the arc and under 38 percent from the field, overall. Jackson led the team with 20 points, making it his 18th straight 20-point performance. Robinson and Norl also scored in double digit figures, with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Hahn gathered 11 boards, but only made two of his 11 shots on his way to seven points. Jackson added seven rebounds. The Mavs turned the ball over a total of 12 times, to the Jackrabbits’ five.
For South Dakota State, it was a Daum showcase – but impressive displays were also offered from Skyler Flatten and Tevin King, each missing only one of their shots from the field and scoring 12 and 14, respectively. While the team’s shooting from the 3-point line was limited to 35 percent, the team packed the paint, shooting just over 46 percent from the field overall.
South Dakota State improves their record to 19-6 overall, while being 7-1 in the Summit League. They currently sit atop the conference standings. Omaha, meanwhile, falls to 7-17 overall, and 2-6 in the Summit League.
Next, Omaha faces Western Illinois at Baxter Arena on Feb. 8. The tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the call will be given on 1180 Zone 2.