Bison 81 ORU 71
NDSU finished Wednesday's game on a raucous 42-20 run to defeat Oral Roberts and push its league leading conference record to 7-1. It was the only game of the week for the Thundering Herd and getting a win was paramount.
The Bison made nine of their final 10 shots. NDSU was led in scoring by senior Forward Dexter Werner with 19 points. Werner was able to accomplish that despite playing just two first half minutes. Both Werner and starting big Dylan Miller were strapped with two early fouls, pushing Spencer Eliason into unforeseen minutes.
With the 7-1 start in league play, the first-place Bison have matched their best first half start since joining The Summit League. NDSU also started 7-1 in '08-09 and 1'2-13.
ORU big Albert Owens was a monster. Owens spent much of his offensive career in the shadow of Obi Emegano. With Emegano playing professional ball in Italy, that's not the case any more. Owens scored 19 total points in ORU's two games against the Bison a season ago. On Wednesday night he banged in 28 points and grabbed nine rebounds on an efficient 12-22 shooting night capped off by a 4-4 performance from the free throw line.
Freshman Tyson Ward was all over the place for North Dakota State. He scored 12 points including two big second half threes and a igniting breakaway flush, grabbed eight rebounds, three assists (including a Oh Lawd dish to Werner under the hoop), and tallied two steals as well.
ORU led by 12 with a little over 13 minutes to go. NDSU got big minutes and big shots from AJ Jacobson and Khy Kabellis. Both guys played 38 minutes and both guys hit huge threes including Jacobson's right wing bomb to finally take the lead at 62-60. The Bison would make their final six free throws to close out the contest.
One performance not to be ignored was that of Paul Miller. Miller struggled from the field, shooting just 3-11, but defended and rebounded well, finishing with five rebounds four assists and a steal, giving the Bison big minutes despite his shot not falling. In a season full of explosive offensive performance it was perhaps this effort that sets itself as far apart from the tumult of last season as any.
What's going to happen?
Nothing. No games between now and the next weekly check-in, though stay tuned for a feature on Paul Miller early next week.
News and Notes
Catching fire: Great stat from the sports information department with NDSU men's basketball: on December 27th, NDSU ranked 292nd nationally (there are 347 squads) in 3 point percentage at 31.3%. That was..... not ideal. Today on January 27th, the Bison have raised their season average to 37.3%, and now rank 81st. That places NDSU inside the top 25% of college basketball in marksmanship and better reflects the type of squad that Coach Richman thought he had coming into the season. The Scheel's Center is new but they might have to replace the nets soon (rimshot, cymbal).
Balanced attack: the Bison are about as balanced as it gets on offense. Paul Miller gets a lot of the accolades (two time Summit League player of the week) but NDSU has gotten production from all over the floor, up and down the roster in their 15-6 start. Miller, AJ Jacobson, Dexter Werner, Khy Kabellis, Deng Geu, Carlin Dupree and Tyson Ward have each either led the team in scoring or been second in a given game. If teams try to take away Werner, the guards and wings splash from the outside. If not, the Big Man from Bismarck has a season high of 30 points. Just when teams think they have it all figured out Ward or Geu will provide a spark from the bench.
Really funny quote: "Freshmen want to play, Sophomores want to start, Juniors want shots and Seniors want to win." Dave Richman