Mavericks experience early struggles to start the year

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Mitchell Cutcher
CONTRIBUTOR

Omaha head coach Derrin Hansen draws up a play during the Mavericks loss against SIUE. Photo taken by Mark Kuhlmann/Omaha Athletics.

There’s no other way to put it: the Omaha men’s basketball has had a rough go to start the season. The Mavericks sit at 1-8 and have lost eight in a row after winning their season opener against Hastings.

Omaha’s schedule was already shaping up to be a difficult one before the season even tipped off, given that Baxter Arena was occupied by the U.S. Olympic Trials for Curling for most of November. The Mavericks were forced to head out on a five-game road trip during that stretch and returned home empty-handed at 0-5, including multiple blowout losses.

The first two stops on the trip against Ball State and Kansas State were eerily similar for the Mavericks. The Mavericks found themselves down big in the first half in both games, but they were able to fight back and make it interesting — a promising sign, especially early on. However, both deficits were ultimately too big to overcome. Omaha lost by four at Ball State and fell at Kansas State by 15.

The Mavericks then ventured west to the Treasure State, where they took on the Montana Grizzlies as part of the Big Sky/Summit League Challenge. Similar to the Ball State and Kansas State games, there was a slow start once again on the Omaha side. However, the Mavericks were unable to mount any type of a comeback in this one and fell 68-47, which was their largest defeat through the first four games.

That deficit only continued to grow in the next two games. Following the loss against Montana, the Mavericks played back-to-back games at Texas Tech and No. 3 Purdue, two teams that have perennially been in the NCAA Tournament in recent years. The gap was wide and clear in both games as the Mavericks were blown out. Omaha fell by a final score of 96-40 in Lubbock, Texas, and 97-40 in West Lafayette, Ind. against Purdue.

With the five-game trip in the rearview mirror, the Mavericks returned to Omaha looking to build some momentum and get back on track. They hosted SIUE on Nov. 30, a team that gave Creighton a scare just three days prior, which was the Mavericks’ first game of the season at Baxter Arena. Once again, Omaha struggled out of the gate.

The Cougars held a 47-16 lead at one point and largely controlled the game for several stretches. Although the Mavericks were able to mount a comeback in the second half, SIUE handed them their sixth loss of the season, 75-66.

The Mavericks’ skid has now reached eight after a pair of home losses to Eastern Washington and Drake.Their final non-conference home game will be Dec. 11 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Omaha will then travel to Las Vegas to face UNLV on Dec. 15.

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