BROOKINGS – For the first time in program history, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team is 6-0 in the Summit League. The Jackrabbits led the whole game and defeated Denver 80-62 on Saturday afternoon.
Baylor Scheierman opened the game with a 3-pointer. It was his 10th-straight make from beyond the arc. The streak ended a couple minutes later, but SDSU jumped out to a 10-2 lead.
SDSU led 20-6 with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half. The Jacks then went on a 13-5 run to push the lead to 33-11 with 7:44 to go in the half. They took a 44-23 lead into the locker room.
The Jacks held the Pioneers to 28.1% shooting from the field in the first half and Denver was 3-14 from three. On the flip side, the Jacks shot 53.3% from the field and were 9-17 from three.
“In the first [on defense], we were under standing personnel,” said SDSU head coach Eric Henderson. “Our routes were really good. I thought our urgency was really good [as well].”
SDSU held a steady lead for most of the second half. The Pioneers cut the lead to 66-52 with 6:33 left in the game. The closest the game would get was 70-58, but there was only two minutes left.
The Jacks were 2-10 from three in the second half. Henderson said his team struggled to make stops in the second half, so they weren’t able to get out and run, and they also missed some open shots.
“[Denver] didn’t double quite as much in the second half,” Henderson said. “But we didn’t have much ball movement in the second either and that goes back to taking the ball out of bounds. When you’re not getting stops, you play a little slower and we just got a little stagnant. That’s why defensively it’s so important for us to have that urgency for 40 minutes, so we can play that way.
“… I still felt like we had some open shots that we just missed and that’s okay. We want to take open shots. I’m not worried about if the ball is going in or not because we have more than capable shooters.”
SDSU shot 48.3% from the field for the game. The Jacks were 13-20 at the free throw line.
Alex Arians led the Jacks with 19 points and he was 5-8 from three. Henderson said it was nice to see Arians have a big game.
“Really, really happy for Alex,” Henderson said. “Because Alex, depending on the game, has a lot of different roles on this team. He’s a guy that you look at and sometimes his number is called and sometimes it’s not as much. Those are the guys that it takes to be a special team because [he does] not always understand what’s coming [his] way, but accepts it and embraces it for the betterment of the team. So when you do get those opportunities, it’s obviously nice to see when it goes well and he was terrific.”
Baylor Scheierman had his 21st career double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Douglas Wilson had 11 points and six rebounds. Luke Appel and Matt Mims had 12 and 11 points, respectively, off the bench.
Henderson said Mims has been huge for the Jacks since conference play started with the energy that he brings off of the bench.
“[Mims] the past four or five games has given us as much as anybody. The way he plays on both sides of the floor. Defensively, he plays with super energy. He plays with great emotion and that filters throughout your team and it brings energy to everybody. Offensively, in conference play I think he’s around 10-15 from the 3-point line, so he’s confident there. But it’s more his mantra, his energy in how impacts a game. His energy has been so contagious with everybody and it’s been dynamite for our group,” he said.
Denver (6-14, 2-5) finished shooting 38.7% from the field and 10-29 from three. The Pioneers were 4-9 from three.
KJ Hunt led the Pioneers with 18 points, five rebounds and five assists. Corban Porter had 16 points and Touko Tainamo had 13.
SDSU won the rebound battle 40-34. The Jacks forced 11 turnovers and scored 15 points off of them.
With the win, the Jacks improved to 15-4 overall. Since conference play has started, SDSU is second in the Summit League in scoring defense, giving up 72 points per game. Jackrabbit guard Charlie Easley said he thinks the Jacks have improved a lot defensively, but there are still some things that they can improve on.
“I think we’ve made improvements, but there’s always room for improvement. We want to be playing our best defense towards the end [of the year] and in the Summit League Tournament. We just have to keep improving and focus every night on our matchups, and if we do that, we’ll be in a good spot. I think guarding for a whole 40 minutes is one thing [we can improve on]. I think sometimes in the second half if we get a lead we might slow down a little bit. We have to have the same intensity the whole game,” Easley said.
SDSU will look to remain unbeaten in league play on Thursday when they play at Summit League newcomer St. Thomas. Arians said starting 6-0 for the first time in program history is a cool accomplishment, but there’s a lot of basketball left to be played.
“I think [starting 6-0] is obviously an award for our team. Obviously we know that with that start it’s all about us. I think that’s why SDSU has been so successful in the recent past. We make sure each and every day that we make it about us and about what we can continue to get better on. I think if we continue to do that we’ll be in a good spot and be right where we want to be at the end of the year,” Arians said.
SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 80, DENVER 62
Denver (6-14, 2-5)
KJ Hunt 7-15 1-2 18, Coban Porter 5-10 2-3 16, Touko Tainamo 6-14 0-0 13, Tevin Smith 3-6 0-0 7, Pedro Lopen Sanvicente 2-3 0-0 4, Taelyr Smith 1-3 0-0 3, Jordan Johnson 0-3 1-2 1, Michael Henn 0-8 0-0 0. Totals 24-62 4-9 62.
South Dakota State (15-4, 6-0)
Alex Arians 6-12 2-2 19, Luke Appel 5-9 2-2 12, Baylor Scheierman 4-10 1-2 11, Douglas Wilson 4-7 3-8 11, Matt Mims 3-4 2-2 10, Zeke Mayo 3-5 1-2 8, Matt Dentlinger 2-2 2-2 6, Charlie Easley 1-9 0-0 3. Totals 28-58 13-20 80.
DU 23 39 – 62
SDSU 44 36 – 80
FG% – DU 38.7%, SDSU 48.3%. 3-point field goals – DU 10-29 (Porter 4-8, Smith 1-2, Hunt 3-7, Tainamo 1-3, Lopez Sanvicente 0-1, Johnson 0-2, Henn 0-3), SDSU 11-27 (Mims 2-3, Arians 5-8, Scheierman 2-6, Mayo 1-3, Easley 1-7). Rebounds – DU 34 (Tainamo, Henn 6), SDSU 40 (Scheierman 11). Assists – DU 16 (Hunt 5), SDSU 10 (Wilson 4). Steals – DU 1 (Tainamo), SDSU 6 (Scheierman 3). Blocks – DU 3 (Tainamo, Lopez Sanvicente, Smith), SDSU 1 (Dentlinger). Turnovers – DU 11, SDSU 10. Total fouls – DU 20, SDSU 14. Fouled out – Wilson, Tainamo. Technical fouls – Wilson, Tainamo. A –1,595.