North Dakota State (18-5) at Oakland (11-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Athletics Center O'rena (4,005) -- Rochester, Michigan. Television: None. Home Record: NDSU 10-0, Oakland 7-1. Away Record: NDSU 6-5, Oakland 4-12. Neutral Record: NDSU 2-0, Oakland 0-0. Conference Record: NDSU 9-2, Oakland 6-4. Series Record: Oakland leads, 8-5.
GAME NOTES: The Oakland Golden Grizzlies will try to extend their season-long winning streak to four games on Thursday night, as they entertain the North Dakota State Bison in Summit League action.
NDSU played a pair home games last week, coming away with a 71-34 win over UMKC on Jan. 31 and a 65-46 triumph versus South Dakota on Saturday. The modest two-game win streak for the Bison allowed them to hold on to a tie for first place in the Summit League with Western Illinois and South Dakota State at 9-2, and they are 18-5 overall this season.
Following a 96-81 win over Nebraska Omaha last Saturday, Oakland won its third straight game to improve to 6-4 in conference. Although the Grizzlies are just 11-13 overall on the season, they have played very well at the O'rena, claiming seven of eight matchups on their home floor.
Oakland leads the all-time series, 8-5, although NDSU claimed the first meeting this season, winning 73-65 in Fargo on Jan. 12.
NDSU was impressive shooting the ball in its latest game, making 51 percent of its field goal attempts with nine 3-pointers, but the biggest reason for the 19-point victory was its outstanding defensive pressure, the team holding South Dakota to less than 40 percent shooting. TrayVonn Wright shot 8-of-12 from the field for 17 points, while grabbing seven rebounds, and Brett VandenBergh tallied 14 points on 4-of-6 from beyond the arc. Kory Brown chipped in 10 points, and while Lawrence Brown netted just two points, he dished out eight assists.
The Bison have established a similar theme this season, shooting 48.4 percent from the field while holding opponents to just 37.7 percent en route to a +13.7 scoring margin. With Taylor Braun (15.2 ppg) out with a broken foot, Marshall Bjorklund (12.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Wright (10.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg) have elevated ther games, with Alexander (9.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Mike Felt (9.2 ppg) trying to do the same.
Oakland put forth their best offensive effort of the season in its 96-point outburst against Omaha, shooting 32-of-61 from the field and 28-of-38 from the foul line, and it was paced by a career-high 28 points by Corey Petros, who missed just three of his 15 field goal attempts. Travis Bader, the nation's leader in 3-pointers (100), shot just 1-of-8 from long range, but he went 13- of-14 from the free-throw line en route to 24 points. Duke Mondy tallied 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Drew Valentine rounded out the balanced effort with 14 points and 16 boards.
The recent offensive explosion allowed the Grizzlies to climb to an average of 72.7 ppg, second-best in the Summit League. Bader's 3-point prowess has him racking up 21.7 ppg, which not only ranks tops in the conference but fourth in the nation as well. Petros (13.3 ppg, 8.2 rpg) shoots nearly 60 percent from the field, while Monday brings 12.0 ppg, 5.1 apg and 3.1 spg to the mix. While scoring points is rarely a problem, Oakland's issue come at the defensive end, where it allows nearly 74 ppg.
NDSU is without question one of the league's top teams, but it has been proven vulnerable away from home (6-5). Riding a hot streak, Oakland is in great position to inch closer to the top of the league standings in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oakland 70, North Dakota State 68
02/07 10:35:55 ET