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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Monday, December 16, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (5,830) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Television: MeTV. Home Record: Delaware 1-1, NDSU 2-1. Away Record: Delaware 4-3, NDSU 4-3. Neutral Record: Delaware 0-0, NDSU 1-0. Conference Record: Delaware 0-0, NDSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Delaware Blue Hens finally get back to playing basketball tonight as they clash with the North Dakota State Bison as part of the Gotham Classic at Bison Sports Arena.
Delaware is in the midst of a six-game road trip that doesn't see the team playing at home in the Bob Carpenter Center until the first of the new year against Liberty. The most recent outing for the Hens was a stop in South Bend to challenge former head coach Mike Brey and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Dec. 7, a meeting that ended in a disappointing 80-75 setback.
The loss for Delaware, which hasn't played in front of the hometown crowd since entertaining Robert Morris on Nov. 30, snapped a three-game win streak.
As for the Bison, they were in action just two nights ago versus third-ranked Ohio State and were crushed by the Buckeyes in a 79-62 final. The defeat snapped a five-game win streak for SDSU and was the first setback for the program since bowing to in-state rival North Dakota (95-77) back on Nov. 24 in Grand Forks.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between these two schools on the hardwood.
Jarvis Threatt tried to give the Blue Hens a fighting chance during their meeting with Notre Dame last week, pouring in 23 points and handing out a career-high 10 assists, but it still wasn't enough to keep the visitors from slipping against their former head coach. Threatt also cleared six rebounds, but shot only 1-of-5 behind the 3-point line and turned the ball over seven times. Kyle Anderson and Davon Usher both contributed 19 points.
While the Hens had high hopes heading into the 2013-14 campaign, the squad has had to face the reality that one of their best players, Devon Saddler (23.0 ppg) has been suspended after appearing in just two games. With Saddler out of action, that leaves Usher (19.2 ppg) and Threatt (18.4 ppg) to pick up the slack, both in scoring and passing as the duo has combined to hand out 83 assists. Those quick hands have also resulted in a collective 40 steals, but the rest of the unit has just 12 thefts.
As expected, North Dakota State fell behind the Buckeyes right out of the chute on Saturday and never recovered, trailing by as many as 27 late in the second half before accepting the loss at Value City Arena. Taylor Braun tried to give the visitors a fighting chance with his 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the floor, but only Marshall Bjorklund and Lawrence Alexander were able to lend decent offensive support with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Beyond those three, no one else on the roster made more than a pair of field goals in the meeting.
Over the last six games the Bison have had five different leading scorers which says something about their balanced effort at the offensive end. Through 11 games, the team has sported the same starting five and because of that Braun stands as the top overall scorer with his 16.6 ppg, not to mention coming out on top in terms of assists and steals with 42 and 24, respectively. Shooting an impressive 50.5 percent from the field, NDSU is generating 77.5 ppg, compared to 70.4 ppg for the competition.
Without Saddler at their disposal the Hens are really hurting right now. The team could be so much better and would probably have the edge in Fargo tonight, but as it stands the Bison should be able to pull this one out.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 79, Delaware 68
12/16 10:32:11 ET
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