For the last few years, the Summit League has been “Dauminated.”
When it comes to basketball, the conference could be described as South Dakota State followed by everybody else – much like a listless driver bottlenecking a two-lane interstate by staying to the left. Each team in the conference has tried to pass the Jackrabbits. So far, no luck.
On the other hand, the Maverick team that entered Frost Arena on the afternoon of Jan. 26 was no pushover. Omaha entered the game having won five straight games and five straight road competitions. They were nine for their last 10.
‘Were’ is the key word, as Omaha failed to pass the Jackrabbits. Omaha fell to South Dakota State in the first of two conference games by a score of 83-73.
In the first half the Jackrabbits jumped out to an early lead; however, Omaha did manage to take the lead for a brief duration before surrendering it prior to halftime. SDSU gave a strong start to the final half and never looked back.
One key to the Jackrabbits’ success was their limiting of Omaha star Zach “Action” Jackson. With over 1,000 career points Jackson is one of Omaha’s all-time scorers; he was limited to only five points on eight attempts from the field.
Maverick KJ Robinson had a high-scoring afternoon with a team-leading 23 points, and he also showed his presence on the defense with a team-leading four steals. In fact, Omaha managed 13 steals in the entire game. Unfortunately, their shooting was less than their average. Instead of their usual 50% or better, Omaha only shot with 41% accuracy.
Mitch Hahn (a huge part of the Mavericks’ recent success) scored 14 points and added a team-high 15 rebounds, and JT Gibson added his own 14 points.
The one question that could not be answered? How do we stop Mike Daum.
Daum – one of the best players in the country, and two-time Summit League Player of the Year – scored 33 points in his fourth-straight campaign with 30 or more points. He added 16 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and three steals. Daum led the team in each statistic.
South Dakota State now leads the Summit League with a conference record of 7-1. Omaha follows with a record of 6-2, good for second place. Both teams have eight games to go before reaching the Summit League tournament in Sioux Falls in March.
It’s difficult to play in Frost Arena. South Dakota State is used to success; they’ve won the Summit League five times in their last seven years and three times in a row before now. And their fans know it.
So maybe the Mavericks can be the team that finally gets past that figurative driver that refuses to vacate the left lane, and maybe Omaha can be the team to cruise down the road to victory next. But it’ll have to wait for another day.