The North Dakota State men's basketball team begins the second half of the Summit League schedule when the first-place Bison (16-4, 7-1) face third-place South Dakota State (15-6, 6-2) at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Frost Arena (6,500) in Brookings, S.D.
WATCH: Saturday's game will be televised live on Midco Sports Network and Fox College Sports Pacific with Tom Nieman calling the play-by-play and Brad Newitt as color analyst. A live video stream will be available to NDSU All Access subscribers on GoBison.com. Prices are $9.95 for a monthly subscription, $29.95 for four months and $79.95 annually.
LISTEN: KFGO-AM 790 of Fargo and Bison Radio Network affiliate KLTC-AM 1460 of Dickinson will broadcast live with KFGO's Scott Miller calling the play-by-play and NDSU director of sales and broadcasting Jeremy Jorgenson as color analyst. Coverage includes 20-minute pregame and postgame shows. Live audio streaming will be on GoBison.com and the NDSU Bison mobile app for Android, iPhone and iPod Touch.
THE SERIES: This is the 206th meeting between North Dakota State and South Dakota State in men's basketball dating back to January 1910. NDSU leads the series 109-96 after last month's 65-62 win in Fargo. SDSU won both games last year to snap a 10-game losing streak in the series. The Jacks escaped with a 91-88 overtime win in Fargo and completed the season sweep with an 80-57 rout in Brookings. NDSU and SDSU have not split since 2005-06.
BISON OUTLAST JACKS, 65-62: Marshall Bjorklund scored 20 points and Lawrence Alexander scored nine of his 18 points in the final five minutes to help North Dakota State beat South Dakota State 65-62 at the Bison Sports Arena on Dec. 29. Nate Wolters scored 26 points for South Dakota State, which missed a long 3-pointer by Jordan Dykstra at the buzzer to tie. Tony Fiegen had 14 points and Brayden Carlson finished with 12 for the Jackrabbits. The Bison trailed by as many as four points inside the 5-minute mark when Alexander got to the rim on back-to-back trips to tie the game at 56 and it was a one-possession game the rest of the way. NDSU, which didn't get to the free throw line in the first half, went just 10-for-21 at the stripe and got outrebounded 21-11 after halftime. But the Bison shot 58 percent and had zero turnovers in the second half to stay in the game. A crowd of 5,064 was on hand.
ABOUT SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: The Jackrabbits have won four straight to improve to 15-6 overall and are third in The Summit League with a 6-2 record after winning 59-53 at Western Illinois and 80-65 at IUPUI last week. Summit League Player of the Week Nate Wolters ranks 10th nationally in scoring (20.7 ppg) and 27th in assists (5.8 apg) and leads the Jacks with 1.7 steals per game. Jordan Dykstra averages 12.7 points and leads the team in rebounding (6.9 rpg) and 3-point shooting (.458), and Tony Fiegen is scoring 10.3 points per game while shooting a team-best .582 from the field. SDSU ranks sixth nationally in fewest turnovers with 10.4 per game. Head coach Scott Nagy has a 331-204 record in his 18th season at SDSU.
EIGHT-GAME WINNING STREAK SNAPPED: North Dakota State had its eight-game winning streak snapped Saturday with a 50-42 loss at Western Illinois. It was NDSU's longest winning streak since 11 straight in January and February of 2009. Mike Felt scored 10 points, Marshall Bjorklund had nine points, and Lawrence Alexander added eight points, seven rebounds and four assists. The Bison, despite playing without starter Kory Brown for the first 26 minutes due to illness, held Western Illinois to four first-half field goals to take a 20-13 halftime lead. NDSU's biggest lead was 24-15 with 16:25 left to play, but four straight turnovers fueled a 12-point run by Western Illinois and the Leathernecks never trailed after Ceola Clark's 3-pointer made it 27-24 with 12:16 to go. Western Illinois outscored NDSU 21-4 at the foul line including 17-for-26 in the second half. The Leathernecks made 10 of 12 from the stripe in the final 76 seconds of the game.
PHILLIPS GETS 100th WIN IN ROUT AT IUPUI, 78-40: North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips won his 100th game when the Bison blasted IUPUI 78-40 last Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It was the most lopsided road win for NDSU in Division I and the fewest points allowed by the Bison since a 71-34 home win over Jamestown College in February 2006. TrayVonn Wright scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the first half and grabbed a game-high seven rebounds for NDSU, which shot 12-for-23 from the 3-point line and 57.4 percent overall. Wright had four 3-pointers. Lawrence Alexander scored 11 points and Jordan Aaberg scored all 10 of his points off the bench in the second half. The Bison had 22 assists on 31 baskets and tied a season-low with only six turnovers. NDSU closed the first half on a 14-0 run to lead 38-18 at the break. The Bison extended that to 22 straight points capped by back-to-back 3-pointers by Wright and Mike Felt that made it 46-18 with 17:55 left. The Bison had all of their starters out of the game by the 8:40 mark of the second half. Brett VandenBergh had a pair of 3-pointers for six points and made a block and four assists in a season-high 27 minutes off the bench.
BRAUN OUT 4-6 WEEKS: North Dakota State junior Taylor Braun will be out 4-6 weeks with a fracture in his right foot sustained during the second half of the Oakland game Jan. 12. Braun made 66 consecutive starts dating back to Dec. 30, 2010, and with 991 career points is in line to become the 28th player in school history to score 1,000. Braun is averaging 12.7 points over 78 career games. Michael Tveidt (2007-11) was the last 1,000-point scorer at NDSU.
BISON 53rd IN THIRD NCAA RPI: North Dakota State moved up one spot to 53rd in the third NCAA Rating Percentage Index released Monday, Jan. 21. NDSU had its highest rating in program history at No. 46 in the first RPI, passing the No. 86 final ranking by the 2009 NCAA tournament team and No. 80 ranking after last season's 10-3 start. NDSU is the highest-rated Summit League team ahead of South Dakota State (61) and Western Illinois (146).
BISON FALLS FIVE SPOTS IN MID-MAJOR POLL: North Dakota State fell five spots to 15th in the ninth CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 released Monday, Jan. 21. NDSU's previous No. 10 ranking was the highest in program history, passing the No. 11 held Jan. 7 and by NDSU's 2009 Summit League championship and NCAA tournament team went 26-7 and was 11th in the final poll. NDSU received votes in the first two polls this year and was ranked 25th, 25th, 22nd, 14th, 11th and 10th the past six weeks.
NDSU SWEEPS FIRST ROAD TRIP: North Dakota State's wins at South Dakota and Kansas City on Jan. 3-5 marked the first 2-0 Summit League road trip since the Bison clinched the 2009 regular-season title at Centenary and Oral Roberts. Marshall Bjorklund scored a season-high 23 points and had eight rebounds to lead NDSU to a 92-66 win at USD, where the Bison shot 80 percent in the first half (21-for-26) and led 52-26 at halftime. TrayVonn Wright notched his second double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in NDSU's 63-44 win over UMKC. The Bison led 28-19 at the half and later stretched the lead to 23.
BIGGEST CROWD IN THREE YEARS: North Dakota State won its sixth straight home game Dec. 29 with a 65-62 victory over South Dakota State in front of a crowd of 5,064 at the Bison Sports Arena despite a limited student turnout over the winter break. It was the largest BSA crowd since 2009 when NDSU beat SDSU in the home finale with 5,790 in attendance.
ALEXANDER PLAYER OF THE WEEK: North Dakota State guard Lawrence Alexander was named Summit League Player of the Week for the first time in his career Dec. 31. Alexander had 18 points and a season-high six assists in North Dakota State's 65-62 home win over South Dakota State. He was 6-for-10 from the field and grabbed two rebounds. Alexander scored nine points in the game's final five minutes to help the Bison overcome a four-point deficit. He played all 40 minutes and had zero turnovers in the second half.
WRIGHT THIRD IN CAREER BLOCKS: North Dakota State junior TrayVonn Wright is third in NDSU history with 97 career blocks. Wright has blocked a shot in 19 straight games, including a career-high five blocks in the home win over Oakland.
NDSU Career Blocks
1. Jason Wenschlag, 220 (1989-93)
2. Joe Regnier, 146 (1985-89)
3. TrayVonn Wright, 97 (2010-present)
BISON BLOCKING SHOTS AT NEAR-RECORD PACE: North Dakota State's average of 4.8 blocks per game ranked 49th nationally through Sunday and would be third best in school history. NDSU has blocked at least four shots in 16 of 20 games with a season-low of one block at Kansas City and a season-high nine blocks at Morehead State.
BJORKLUND LEADS NATION IN SHOOTING: North Dakota State forward Marshall Bjorklund's .717 shooting percentage leads the nation for the fourth straight week in the NCAA Division I statistics through Sunday. Bjorklund made 24 consecutive field goals over a three-game span against Morehead State, South Dakota State and South Dakota, four shy of the NCAA all-divisions record of 28 straight field goals made by NDSU's Lance Berwald over a three-game span in February 1984. Bjorklund is also the NCAA's active career leader in field-goal percentage (.679) ahead of Indiana's Cody Zeller (.626).
NCAA Division I Active Career Leaders, FG%
1. Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State - .679
2. Cody Zeller, Indiana - .626
3. Jordan Morgan, Michigan - .626
4. Jack Cooley, Notre Dame - .616
5. Tarik Black, Memphis - .614
SCORING DEFENSE: North Dakota State ranked 10th nationally through Sunday allowing just 56.2 points per game, which would be the best scoring defense in school history dating back to 1950-51. The Duquesne and James Madison games marked the first back-to-back 40-point efforts by the NDSU defense since 1990-91 when the Bison did it against North Dakota (L, 28-49) and Omaha (W, 65-48). NDSU has held eighth opponents under 50 points and prior to this year had done that just seven times in eight seasons of Division I basketball.
NCAA STATS: North Dakota State ranked among the top 50 nationally in 10 categories in the 12th NCAA statistics report through Sunday, Jan. 20. Individually, Marshall Bjorklund ranked first in field-goal percentage (.717).
NDSU in the NCAA Stats, all games through Jan. 20
10th - scoring defense (56.2)
15th - FG percentage (.486)
20th - FG percentage defense (.377)
23rd - fewest turnovers per game (11.4)
24th - scoring margin (+13.8)
24th - 3FG percentage (.384)
33rd - winning percentage (.800)
34th - total points (1,399)
48th - assist/turnover ratio (1.22)
49th - blocked shots per game (4.8)
BRAUN TWO-TIME SUMMIT PLAYER OF THE WEEK: North Dakota State's Taylor Braun was named Summit League Player of the Week by the league office for the second time in three weeks Dec. 10. Braun averaged 22.5 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in a pair of victories. He made 11 of 12 free throws and scored a game-high 23 points at Morehead State, and he led the Bison with 22 points and a career-high five steals against North Dakota. He earned his first career award Nov. 26 after averaging 11.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists over four games and being named MVP of the Progressive Legends Classic Pittsburgh Subregional.
BRAUN TIES 3-POINT RECORD: Taylor Braun tied a school record with seven 3-pointers made in the 95-51 win over Omaha on Nov. 29. Braun had 26 points and nine rebounds in the game and NDSU finished one shy of its team record making 15 of 25 shots from behind the arc. Braun tied the mark held by several players including Mike Felt, who made seven against Centenary in January 2011.
BRAUN MVP, WRIGHT ALL-TOURNAMENT: North Dakota State's Taylor Braun was named Most Valuable Player and TrayVonn Wright was named to the all-tournament team at the Progressive Legends Classic subregional. Braun averaged 14.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists in NDSU's 3-0 run through the tournament. Wright averaged 12.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. Eleven of his 22 rebounds were on the offensive glass.
BISON WIN ANOTHER TOURNAMENT: Non-conference tournaments have been a success for the Bison in recent years. North Dakota State won the Pittsburgh Subregional of the Progressive Legends Classic with wins Nov. 19-21 over Youngstown State, Duquesne and James Madison. NDSU went 3-0 last year at the University of San Francisco's Hilltop Challenge and 2-1 in the Basketball Travelers Invitational at Oregon two years ago. NDSU has a 17-6 record in non-conference tournaments since 2005-06 including championships at Montana State (Dec. 2005), Marquette (Dec. 2006) and San Francisco (Nov. 2011).
BISON PICKED SECOND IN SUMMIT LEAGUE: North Dakota State was picked to finish second out of nine teams in The Summit League according to a preseason poll of the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media. Defending Summit League tournament champion South Dakota State was the unanimous pick to win the league with all 30 available first-place votes and 390 points. North Dakota State had 321 points and got SDSU's vote for first place, Oakland was third with 310 points and Western Illinois fourth with 274 points. IUPUI edged Fort Wayne by two points for fifth place. Kansas City, South Dakota and league newcomer Omaha filled out the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in order. NDSU had three players named to the preseason all-league teams. Junior guard Taylor Braun was voted to the first team and junior forward Marshall Bjorklund and sophomore guard Lawrence Alexander landed on the second team.
SECOND POSTSEASON APPEARANCE: Last year's College Basketball Invitational presented by Zebra Pen was NDSU's second postseason appearance since beginning Division I play in 2004-05 and the first since the 2009 NCAA tournament when the Bison won the Summit League tournament and lost to No. 3 seed Kansas 84-74 in the first round of the Midwest Region. NDSU's first year of postseason eligibility was 2009 after a five-year reclassification from Division II that left the Bison out of the playoffs from 2005 through 2008.
STATISTICAL LEADERS: North Dakota State's scoring defense of 68.4 points allowed per game last year ranked fifth overall in The Summit League but was the 12th best mark in school history over a span of 62 seasons dating back to 1950-51. NDSU led the league in field goal percentage defense at .434 and field goal shooting at .488, which ranked seventh nationally. Junior guard Mike Felt ranked 14th nationally in 3-point percentage at .431.
PHILLIPS FOURTH NDSU COACH TO 100: Saul Phillips is in his sixth season as head coach at North Dakota State and fourth on the school's all-time wins list with a 100-71 record. Phillips directed NDSU to its first Summit League championship and NCAA Division I tournament appearance in 2009, and was one of 10 finalists for the Hugh Durham Mid-Major Coach of the Year award. A Bison assistant for three seasons, Phillips came to NDSU from Wisconsin, where he was director of basketball operations for three years under Bo Ryan. He was an assistant for two seasons each at Milwaukee and Lake Superior State and a graduate assistant at Wayne State in Nebraska for one year.
NDSU All-Time Coaching Victories
1. Erv Inniger, 244-150, 1978-92
2. Chuck Bentson, 169-207, 1949-65
3. Bob Lowe, 141-102, 1933-46
4. Saul Phillips, 100-71, 2007-present
NDSU COACHING HISTORY: NDSU's four previous head coaches have all gone on to bigger jobs and are all still actively coaching. Tim Miles (2001-07) went to Colorado State and is now the head coach at Nebraska. Greg McDermott (2000-01) went to Northern Iowa and Iowa State, and is now the head coach at Creighton. Ray Giacoletti (1997-00) went to Eastern Washington and Utah and is currently an assistant at Gonzaga. Tom Billeter (1992-97) went to St. John's and Texas A&M as an assistant coach and is now in his 10th year as head coach at Division II Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D.
BISON IN THE PROS: Five former Bison have played professional basketball since the school began Division I play in 2004-05. Forward Andre Smith (2005-07) is playing in Russia, guard Ben Woodside (2005-09) is in Turkey, and forward Michael Tveidt (2007-11) is in Spain. Forward Brett Winkelman (2005-09) played in Italy and guard Mike Nelson (2005-09) played with the Sioux Falls Skyforce in the NBA Development League.
FIVE SUMMIT TEAMS IN POSTSEASON: A record five Summit League men's basketball teams made postseason appearances last March, eclipsing the high of three teams in 1990 and tying for third-most among mid-major leagues in 2012. South Dakota State was in the NCAA, Oral Roberts made the NIT, North Dakota State and Western Illinois were in the College Basketball Invitational, and Oakland played in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.
THE SUMMIT LEAGUE: This is North Dakota State's sixth year in The Summit League after reclassifying from Division II and spending three seasons as a Division I independent. Other members are Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI); University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC); University of Nebraska-Omaha; Oakland University in Rochester, Mich.; University of South Dakota; South Dakota State University; and Western Illinois University. The Summit League dropped from 10 teams to nine this year with the addition of Omaha from Division II and the departure of Southern Utah to the Big Sky Conference and Oral Roberts to the Southland Conference. The Summit League will be back to 10 members with the addition of Denver in 2013-14.