UNO Men’s Basketball vs. IUPUI Primer

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Photo Courtesy of University of Nebraska Foundation

Joe Franco
SPORTS EDITOR

The up and down Mavericks will host a struggling Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis in its next home game on Feb. 8.

After already defeating the Jaguars earlier in the season, the fourth place Mavericks will look to continue their winning streak and sweep IUPUI on the regular season. University of Nebraska at Omaha will certainly have an advantage playing at the Baxter Arena, and will look to improve to 14-11 overall and 7-5 in the Summit League.

The 10-14 Jaguars’ biggest threat offensively is their senior guard Darell Combs. Combs averages 16 points per game and leads the team in assists with three a game. Sophomore forward Evan Hall is their most efficient scorer, putting up seven a game and shooting 58 percent in the process.

UNO is led by senior guards Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins on both the offensive and defensive side of the court. The two have been in sync as of late and are clicking well together. In their last home win against South Dakota, Tyus explained the two seniors’ role in his postgame press conference.

“Coach has just told us that we need to lead the team,” Tyus said. “It’s going to start with us because we are the seniors of the team. We’re the one’s that are out there for the first four minutes. So we just try to set the tempo. If guys see us hustling and flying around, diving around for balls, they are going to do the same thing.”

Last matchup

The Mavs and the Jaguars met earlier in the season on Jan. 11, in which UNO pulled away late in the game to pick up the win in Indianapolis. UNO was led by sophomore guard Zack Jackson, who finished with a team high 20 points, and also shot 7-11 from the field and connected on three of his four attempts from beyond the arc.

One Maverick to watch

The hottest hand on the UNO roster is without a doubt senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins. The Omaha native is putting up video game-es-que numbers in his last few games, and is slowly becoming the team’s go-to guy when in need of a bucket.

The 6-foot-2, 195-pound guard has almost obtained a triple-double in his last three games, and is currently leading the country in most individual steals with 75 on the year. Though he finished with just six points in their previous matchup against IUPUI, Hollins will certainly exceed his season average of 12 points a game.

Reason to be concerned

UNO is sitting at fourth place right now in the Summit League. Being in the middle of the pack of the conference reflects the fact that this team has a hard time being consistent, and that’s exactly why this game not a guaranteed win. The Mavs’ biggest weakness this season is keeping their foot down on the gas pedal. They have gone on both winning and losing streaks throughout the season, and after winning their last two, it’s hard to believe this one is a sure thing.

Prediction

Being ranked 19th in the country in points per game certainly gives the Mavs the edge in this one. Add in the fact that they are playing an IUPUI team that sits in the lower third of the Summit League and that this one will be played in the comfort of their home court should push the Mavericks’ winning streak to three.

Senior guards Hollins and Tyus will continue to do what they do best, which is provide UNO with the majority of its offense. If sophomore forward Mitchell Hahn can come off the bench and reach double digits from downtown, UNO should be able to handle the Jaguars in this high-scoring slugfest.

With March slowly approaching, the team is starting to gain some confidence and is playing well together. Hollins noted this in their last home win against South Dakota.

“We just did a good job of weathering the storm and sticking together and believing to get that win,” Hollins said.

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