Summit League basketball looks a little different this year compared to seasons prior. Rather than the traditional structure of playing one game during the week and one on the weekend, the Summit League opted to follow in the footsteps of many other college basketball conferences and play all games in a weekend double-header format.
After starting off 2-8 in the non conference portion of their schedule, the Omaha Men’s Basketball team opened up Summit League play at Baxter Arena with a pair of games against Oral Roberts on Jan. 2 and 3.
Points were plentiful in game one, especially in the first half, thanks to four 3-pointers in the first four minutes of the game from the Golden Eagles. That gave them a 13-point advantage going into the under 16 media timeout.
A small 7-0 run orchestrated all by Marlon Ruffin brought the Mavericks back within fighting distance. Then with 5:51 left in the first half, a Jadin Booth layup cut the deficit to just two at 39-37, but that was as close as the Mavericks got. Oral Roberts went on to a 95-83 victory.
In game two on Sunday, Omaha got out to a quick start thanks to a Matt Pile bucket 13 seconds in and a Ruffin 3-pointer off a turnover just a handful of seconds later. Ruffin’s bucket 46 seconds into the game was the only shot from behind the arc that fell for the Mavericks.
Omaha went 0-for-11 from behind the 3-point line the rest of the game, resulting in a 8% 3-point range. Omaha fell once again, this time by 11, 86-75. With the loss, the Mavericks are off to an (0-2) start in Summit League play and are (2-10) overall. However, there’s a lot of basketball left to be played.
“We’ve got all of what we want in front of us,” Ruffin said. “We’re down two games in the conference, but we’ve still got a lot of games to play and we’ve still got March to get to. We’re going to figure everything out and just got to go day-by-day.”
A slew of injuries and an incredibly tough schedule have made things difficult for the Mavericks. The team was forced away from home thanks to the NCHC Pod that took over Baxter Arena, causing them to play their first 10 games on the road.
Omaha started off their season at the Beach Bubble Classic in Estero, FL, where they picked up a 60-59 win against Middle Tennessee. The Mavericks dropped two other close games against Austin Peay and Abilene Christian. From there, it’s been a gauntlet of a schedule, as Omaha played four of their next five against teams in the KenPom top 60.
Road losses to Creighton and Drake were avenged by a close road win at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. The following three games at Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming resulted in losses as well.
The most heartbreaking loss of the season came on Dec. 29 when Omaha went on the road to take on an extremely vulnerable Kansas State team. The contest came down to the very last shot and the Mavericks fell 60-58 in what would have been just the fourth win in program history over a Power 6 team.
The Mavericks return to Baxter Arena Jan. 15 and 16 for a pair of games against South Dakota State. Both games are set for 7:00 p.m.