UMKC (6-16) at North Dakota State (16-5)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 31, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (5,830) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: UMKC 1-9. NDSU 8-0. Away Record: UMKC 3-6, NDSU 6-5. Neutral Record: UMKC 2-1, NDSU 2-0. Conference Record: UMKC 3-6, NDSU 7-2. Series Record: NDSU leads, 9-4.
GAMES NOTES: The North Dakota State Bison will try to keep pace at the top of the Summit League standings when they host the UMKC Kangaroos for a conference bout at Bison Sports Arena Thursday night.
The Kangaroos have struggled all season, especially since the beginning of December. Since then UMKC has collected just three wins in 16 games. Currently the Kangaroos are in the midst of a two-game skid after falling to Nebraska- Omaha, 67-59, on Saturday. UMKC is just 6-16 overall, while earning three wins in nine conference tests. This game begins a three-game road trip for UMKC which continues against South Dakota State on Saturday.
North Dakota State is also in the midst of a two-game losing streak. However the Bison have been much more accustomed to picking up winning streaks this season at 16-5 overall. The two losses came in league play for the Bison who now find themselves at 7-2 in league play. North Dakota State wraps up this short two-game homestand on Saturday against South Dakota.
When these teams met earlier this month North Dakota State rolled to a 63-44 victory on the road. The Bison have now won three of the last four meetings and currently lead the all-time series, 9-4.
UMKC ran out to a 41-30 lead at halftime against Omaha but crumbled in the second period. The Kangaroos shot just 29.2 percent from the field in the final period while scoring just 18 points. The Kangaroos also turned the ball over 19 times leading to 20 points for the Mavericks.
On the season the Kangaroos are suffering from a nearly nine point deficit on the scoreboard. Ranking just eighth in the conference in scoring (62.8 ppg) the Kangaroos have made it difficult for themselves by letting up 71.7 points per game on 48 percent shooting. Estan Tyler (11.5 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Thomas Staton (11.3 ppg) are the only players on the squad not only in double figures but scoring more than 7.5 points per game. Fred Chatmon (6.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg) hasn't been much of a scoring option but he ranks third in the conference in rebounds and when called upon has hit more than 50 percent of his shots from the field.
Poor play in the second half also sank North Dakota State last time out. The Bison led 37-31 against South Dakota State but in the second half managed just 16 points on 25 percent shooting. The Bison didn't get many stops on defense either, allowing the Jackrabbits to net 57.1 percent of their field goal attempts in the final 20 minutes.
Offensive efficiency and strong defense has been the key for North Dakota State this year. The Bison are just fifth in the conference in scoring (69.1 ppg) but they have made the most of their attempts by putting in a league leading 48.2 percent of their shots from the floor. Coupled with a 56.8 points allowed per game average, the Bison have more often than not been on the winning side. Taylor Braun (15.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg) is the top scoring option for the Bison, while Marshall Bjorklund (12.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) has been sturdy in the paint where he finishes off 71 percent of his shots. That is not only tops in the Big Sky but in the country as well.
Led by Braun and Bjorklund the Bison have too much firepower to be upset by UMKC. Expect the Bison to bounce back in a big way in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 73, UMKC 57
01/31 10:36:30 ET