When South Dakota State comes to visit Omaha, the game is almost always hyped as one of the most important home games of the season for the men’s basketball team. This year is no different.
Omaha is firing on all cylinders currently, and they look just as good as the 2016-17 team that went all the way to the Summit League Championship game. At time of publication, at a record of 14-9 (8-2 in conference), Omaha sits in second place by a half a game over Fort Wayne.
Meanwhile, their opponent (sitting in first place with a record of 19-6, 9-1) has one of the best players in the nation in Mike Daum, and the Jackrabbits of South Dakota State University already have a win against Omaha under their belt from earlier this season.
The game will be played at 7 PM on Feb. 14. It will be broadcast on Yurview Cox 1013, ESPN+ and MidcoSN2, and it will also be called on 1180 Zone 2. Students gain free admission to the game by showing their MavCard, and general tickets are still available for as low as $10.
Here are some of the things Omaha will have to do to pull to a tie for first place in the Summit League by defeating the Jackrabbits.
Keep the game away from Mike Daum
It’s a simple concept: Mike Daum is a black hole. If you let the ball get too close to him, he sucks it in and takes it to the opposite hoop. If the ball comes to him on offense, it’s nearly impossible to stop him.
Omaha can counter the “Dauminator” by using its balanced roster to spread the ball around to wherever Daum is not. On the other side of the ball, a double-team effort could be useful. If Daum has two blocks or less, 25 points or less, and 10 or less points in the paint, Omaha will be in good shape.
South Dakota State absolutely shredded the Mavericks in the paint earlier this season by scoring 16 more points there than UNO at Frost Arena. That’s the Daum effect, and that’s why UNO must counter with a distance game.
In round one, the Jackrabbits shot 41.7% from the three-point line. The team has a capacity for even more. The Mavericks shot 38.7%, but many of those shots were taken at first opportunity.
If Omaha can hold South Dakota State to under 30% from distance, and if UNO can shoot 40% or higher, a win will be waiting for the home team.
Keeping it close until the end
With several Summit League wins in the final minutes this season, all Omaha needs to do is keep the game within one final shot. The focus shouldn’t be on building an extensive lead – although certainly no one would complain if that were to happen. South Dakota State probably won’t allow that to happen. That’s why Omaha must be prepared to fire up one more clutch shot for the win or the tie at the end of regulation.