OMAHA, Neb. - North Dakota will face a familiar foe in Omaha when it participates in the Ramade Worldwide BracketBusters series presented by ESPN on Saturday. UND will take on the Mavs at 1:05 p.m. CT at Ralston Arena in what will be the team’s final non-conference game of the regular season.
UND VS. OMAHA SERIES
All-time: UND leads 54-34
Division I: First Meeting
In Omaha: Omaha leads 22-16
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Omaha: 1-4
Omaha Head Coach Derrin Hansen vs. UND: 4-3
WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN/TRACK
Radio: 100.3 FM (Grand Forks) or iHeart Radio App (computer or smart phone)
Live Audio Stream: www.UNDSports.com (free)
Live Video: www.OMavs.com (subscription)
Live Stats: www.OMavs.com (free)
Live Chat: www.UNDSports.com (free)
IN THE PAINT...
• These two teams are no strangers to each other, but have not played on the hardwood since the 2007-08 season when the Mavs won all three meetings with UND. UND owns a 54-34 advantage in the all-time series that dates all the way back to the 1934-35 season.
• In fact, the 75-68 victory by Omaha over UND in the quarterfinals of the 2008 North Central Conference Tournament was the final game at the Division II level for the Green and White.
• UND has made the complete transition to Division I basketball and is NCAA Tournament eligibile for the first time this season. Omaha is in its second season of a similar transition and its first season in the Summit League.
• Head coach Brian Jones was in his second season at the helm of UND’s program that season. His team split a pair of two-point contests with the Mavs in his first season on the job, which leaves his career record against Omaha at 1-4.
• Omaha will be the fourth Summit League foe that UND has played this season. The Mavs are 6-8 in league play and 10-18 overall.
• UND played three consecutive Summit League foes from Nov. 28-Dec. 9 earlier this season. The first was a heart-breaking loss at South Dakota State when Chad White hit a buzzer-beater to drop the visitors 71-70. The next contest was vs. Kansas City and the Kangaroos hung on for a 73-70 victory thanks in large part to a season-low 14-for-30 effort from the foul line by UND. In-state rival North Dakota State beat UND by 20 (72-52) on Dec. 9.
• The Mavs are 2-2 against those same Summit League foes this season. Omaha, who finishes its regular season next week with home games against NDSU and SDSU, fell to the Bison in Fargo 95-51 and the Jackrabbits in Brookings 78-63. UNO has beaten Kansas City twice this season - by 12 at home (77-65) and by eight on the road (65-57).
• Jones is 3-12 against Summit League foes during his career. UND went 2-4 against SL foes a season ago, winning home games against South Dakota State and North Dakota State.
• UND comes to Omaha riding the momentum of a dramatic 64-62 victory over Northern Colorado on Wednesday in Big Sky play.
• Coming to Omaha following a game in Greeley is nothing knew for the Green and White as NC and UNO used to be travel partners in the North Central Conference. The last time UND knocked off both teams on the same NCC trip was during the 2000-01 season.
• The two-point victory over Northern Colorado marked the third straight outing where the outcome was decided by two points or less (49-48 win vs. Sac State and 74-72 OT loss vs. Northern Arizona).
• Junior Aaron Anderson scored a game-high 21 points and hit the game-winning 3-pointer with seven seconds left to help UND erase an 11-point second half deficit to the Bears.
• The 3-pointer he hit was the 100th of his career and the first of the second half for UND, who had missed eight straight after going 5-for-11 from deep to start.
• It was the first win over the Bears at the Division I level (five games) for UND, who moved into third place in the Big Sky standings with the victory. UND has three games left in league play following the tilt at Omaha.
• Junior Troy Huff added 19 points in the win over NC and is averaging more than 20 points per game since he joined UND’s 1,000-point club against Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 (10 games). Huff has moved up to 15th place in UND’s all-time charts with 1,206 points.
• Redshirt freshman Shane Benton scored 12 points and equaled Anderson with a team-high six rebounds in his second career start. Benton is averaging 10.0 ppg in UND’s last four road games - accounting for 40 of his 66 points on the season.
• UND trailed 44-33 after NC opened the second half on a 16-5 run, but for the third time in Big Sky play, UND erased a double-digit deficit after halftime.
• Senior Doug Archer equaled his career-high with 24 minutes against NC and came up with a career-high four blocks in the victory.
MORE IN THE PAINT
• With his 45 points in the last two games, Anderson has moved to within 31 points of joining Huff and 31 other UND players in the 1,000-point club.
• Montana and Weber State have already locked in the top two seeds and the Grizzlies hold a one-game lead on the Wildcats in the race to host the 2013 Big Sky Tournament, which is set for March 14-16.
• The next five seeds are up for grabs and the remaining nine league teams are all still mathematically alive for a postseason berth.
• Senior Mitch Wilmer has six double-digit scoring games to his credit this season after recording just one his first three seasons of playing time. Two of those have come against Northern Arizona - a team UND had a chance defeat last Saturday, but the Lumberjacks found a way to force OT and escape with a 74-72 victory.
• Wilmer had 12 points and eight rebounds, while Anderson finished with 24 points and Huff registered his second double-double of the weekend at home.
• Huff’s double-double was his fifth of the season and 10th of his career and it also marked the first time he posted one in consecutive games. He finished with 19 points and equaled his season-high with 11 rebounds. Huff had 13 points and 10 rebounds in the 49-48 victory over Sac State.
• Huff also moved into third place on UND’s career list for steals after equaling his career-high with five takeaways. He now has 130 in two-plus season.
• UND will play without power forward Brandon Brekke (ankle) and shooting guard Josh Schuler (back) in Omaha. Brekke has missed the last two games with this latest injury (13 total games) and Schuler has missed five straight.
• Junior Jamal Webb had one steal against Northern Colorado to give him 59 on the season, which is the fifth most by a UND player in a single season. He is the first player to wear the green and white that has registered three consecutive 50-plus steal seasons (52; 2010-11 and 57; 2011-12).
• Webb also closed within 10 (168) of Scott Guldseth, who owns UND’s all-time career record for steals with 178. He has 14 games this season with three or more steals and 29 for his career.
• Webb also ranks fifth on UND’s all-time charts for career assists with 341.
• Anderson went 7-for-7 from the free throw line and now has 325 makes for his career, which puts him 10th on UND’s all-time charts in that category.
• Schuler, who had started 20 straight games since coming off the bench in the season opener at K-State, has missed the last five games with back spasms. His status is day-to-day. Schuler had played in all 87 games of his UND career up to the Montana State game on Feb. 7 .
• With the win over Idaho State on Feb. 2, head coach Brian Jones surpassed former NBA coaching legend Bill Fitch for fourth place on the all-time career wins list at UND. Fitch went 94-45 from 1963-67 and Jones now has 98 career wins.
• UND fell to 8-5 at home with its overtime loss to NAU on Feb. 16. UND went 13-1 at home during the 2011-12 season.
• The Big Sky is the third conference that UND has been affiliated with since the program began in 1904. At the Division II level, UND was a member of the North Central Conference from 1922 to 2008. After spending one season as an independent during its first season of Division I play in 2008-09, UND spent the next three seasons in the Great West Conference.
• With the addition of the Thunderbirds and UND, the Big Sky basketball playing members grew to 11 this season. Southern Utah played last season in the Summit League, while UND wrapped up a three-year run in the GWC.
• The top seven teams from the regular season will all advance to the Big Sky Conference Tournament where, if they do advance, UND would have a crack at earning its first NCAA Tournament berth. UND won the GWC Tournament in 2011 and 2012 anda advanced to the CIT Postseason Tournament both seasons.
• The Big Sky Tournament will be held at the home venue of the No. 1 seed and regular-season champion.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: OMAHA
• Head coach Derrin Hansen is entering his eighth season at the helm of the Mavericks’ program. He has a career record of 131-04, which already puts him second all-time among Omaha coaches for victories.
• This will be the eighth time Hansen has coached against North Dakota and his Mavs have won the last four meetings.
• Three of those victories came during the 2007-08 season when Omaha won a school-record 25 games and advanced to the NCAA Division II Tournament.
• Omaha is 6-8 in its first season in the Summit League as the Mavs are in year two of the same move to the Division I level UND began prior to the 2008-09 season.
• The Mavs are led in scoring by guard Justin Simmons who enters t he contest averaging 16.1 ppg. He had a season-high 32 points against a Benedictine College team coached by former UND and Omaha assistant coach Ryan Moody.
• Simmons had one of three double-doubles posted by a Mav this season against the Ravens. Omaha, who is 3-0 when a player achieves that feat, needed every bit of Simmons’ contribution in the 74-70 win over the NAIA school.
• Center John Karhoff is the only other Mav averaging in double figures this season at 12.3 ppg. Guard C.J. Carter is close to that mark, averaging 9.8 ppg.
• UND is 2-2 against the three Summit League teams that North Dakota has faced this season. The Mavs lost to both North Dakota State and South Dakota State in road action (as did UND).
• UNO, however, defeated Kansas City twice, winning by 12 at home and eight on the road. UND is 0-3 against Summit League foes this season.
• Last time out, Omaha rallied from nine down in the second half to beat Chicago State - a team that UND is familiar with having played with the Cougars in the Great West each of the past three seasons.
LAST TIME OUT
North Dakota 64, Northern Colorado 62 (Feb. 20) • Greeley, Colo.
GREELEY, Colo. - Junior Aaron Anderson Junior Aaron Anderson capped another double-digit road comeback for North Dakota, drilling a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of a 64-62 victory over Northern Colorado in Big Sky play. The victory puts UND (12-14, 9-8 BSC) alone in third place in the league standings, while the Bears (9-16, 7-10 BSC) saw a three-game winning streak come to a close.
The visitors found themselves down by 11 with just over 13 minutes to play in the game, but a strong-willed UND squad overcame the deficit with another triumphant comeback on the road.
Anderson finished with a game-high 21 points and his 3-poitner from the far wing was the only trifecta of the second half for the visitors. Junior Troy Huff came up big down the stretch as well, finishing with 19 points. Redshirt freshman Shane Benton added 12 points in just his second career start.
It was UND’s first win over Northern Colorado in four tries since moving up to the Division I era prior to the 2008-09 season and the victory allowed the Green and White to extract revenge from a nine-point home loss to the Bears on Dec. 21.
UND led 31-28 at halftime, but a 16-5 spurt by the Bears to start the second half gave NC its first double-digit lead of the game. The visitors would respond with a 13-4 run over the next five minutes to make it a one-possession game again.
HUFF'S RISING IN 1,000-POINT CLUB, ANDERSON IS CLOSING IN
A 3-pointer from the top of the key vs. Eastern Washington on Jan. 17 moved junior Troy Huff into an elite club in the history of North Dakota basketball. Huff’s trey at the 13-minute of the second half brought his career total to 1,002 points as he became the 32nd UND player and just ninth junior to reach that milestone. Patrick Mitchell - a captain on last year’s squad - was the last UND player to add his name to this list. Mitchell finished his career with 1,136 points and stands in 21st now. Huff surpassed Mitchell with his 23-point outing at Montana and has moved up 17 spots to 15th (1,206) in the last 10 games.
At some point over the next season and a half, Huff will likely have a couple of his classmates join him. Aaron Anderson is the next in line to reach the milestone (969 career points) and if his season average holds up (currently 13.7 ppg), he will do so at Portland State on March 2. UND has never had two players reach the 1,000-point plateau in the same season.
UND has three games remaining in Big Sky play and holds a 9-8 record, which is good for third place in the league standings. Here is a look at the four remaining opponents and who they have left in Big Sky play:
at Portland State; Feb. 28 (5-11, won 85-76 on Jan. 19 in Grand Forks)
vs. UND (Feb. 28), vs. NC (March 2), at WSU (March 7), at ISU (March 9)
at Eastern Washington, March 2 (6-10, won 65-47 on Jan. 17 in Grand Forks)
vs. NC (Feb. 28), vs. UND (March 2), at ISU (March 7), at WSU (March 9)
vs. Southern Utah, March 9 (8-8, lost 79-67 on Dec. 17 in Cedar City)
vs. MSU ( Feb. 28), vs. UM (March 4), at NC (March 7), at UND (March 9)
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Junior Troy Huff is enjoying the best scoring season of his career, averaging 18.5 ppg in overall games and 19.3 ppg in Big Sky play. He qualifies for the scoring title in Big Sky play since he has played in 16 of UND’s 17 league tilts, but he’ll need to play in 75 percent of UND’s games to qualify for the overall title. The same standards apply for the NCAA where he would rank among the top 40 scorers nationally entering the weekend if he had not missed eight games due to a broken jaw. With four regular season games remaining and a possible Big Sky Tournament berth, Huff could reach 75 percent of games played if UND were to make at least a two-game run in the postseason.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
UND has played four games this season where a 3-point attempt at the buzzer could have provided a win for the shooting team. The first one did not go in favor of UND as Chad White hit a contested 3-point to give South Dakota State a 71-70 victory over the Greena and White on Nov. 28. The next two nailbiters have come in league play and both times the opponent’s shot was the off the mark. The first of those was at Northern Arizona when Dewayne Russell missed a heave from just inside half court that would have given his Lumberjacks the victory on Jan. 26. The last was this past Thursday when Sac State’s John Dickson saw his 30-footer go wide right in a 49-48 loss at The Betty. Junior Troy Huff saw his contested 3-pointer at the end of regulation vs. Northern Arizona on Saturday miss, forcing the UND’s first overtime of the season. The Lumberjacks would scrape out a 74-72 victory thanks to the extra session.
WEBB WORKING HIS WAY TO THE TOP
Junior Jamal Webb has moved into second place on UND’s career charts for steals with 59 already this season. He tops the Big Sky charts, averaging 2.4 spg in league play and ranks 16th nationally in overall games (2.4/g). Webb is closing fast on UND’s career leader Scott Guldseth, who had 178 from 1989-93. He has 42 in 17 Big Sky games to give him 168 for his career. Webb also joined a new career top 10 recently, moving into fifth on UND’s all-time charts for assists with 341.
HUFF NETS FIRST TWO BIG SKY POW AWARDS
Junior Troy Huff was named the Big Sky Player of the Week on New Year’s Eve after his 14-point, 12-rebound outing in the 56-53 victory over Bowling Green. He was the first UND player to receive the honor from the team’s new conference. The double-double was the sixth of his career as he played in just his second game back from a broken jaw. He picked up his second honor three weeks later after leading UND to pair of back-to-back home wins over Eastern Washington and Portland State.
WILMER CONTINUES TO PLAY WELL
Senior Mitch Wilmer has started the last 22 games for UND and is subsequently playing the best basketball of his UND career. Wilmer, who had only three starts coming into the season, is averaging 5.6 ppg, 4.4 rpg and 1.3 bgp for the season. He has scored 145 points this season, which is 62 more than he had in 55 career games entering the campaign. Wilmer has set or equaled his career-high in scoring four times in those 16 starts, chipping in with 11 points at South Dakota State (Nov. 28), upping that to 12 at North Dakota State (Dec. 9) before scoring 15 against Southern Utah and Northern Colorado. He added his first career double-double against the Thunderbirds in UND’s Big Sky debut by adding 11 rebounds to his point total.
ROSTER ROUND UP
Head coach Brian Jones has a 16-man roster, but only 11 of those players are now active for the 2012-13 season. The team was hoping for good news from the NCAA on granting Texas Tech transfer Jaron Nash a waiver to play immediately and not have to sit out this season, but the organization denied UND’s request. Houston Baptist transfer Dustin Hobaugh transferred to UND after one season with the Huskies to pursue a degree in commercial aviation. Hobaugh is sitting out the 2012-13 season and will have three left to play starting with the 2013-14 campaign. Besides Nash and Hobaugh, Jones is using redshirt seasons on junior college transer Ryan Salmonson and freshman walk-on Thomas Blake. Salmonson played two seasons at Cosumnes River Community College, while Blake prepped at St. Maria Goretti in Hagerstown, Md. JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor played in eight of the team’s first nine, averaging 7.0 ppg and 5.1 rpg, but has been ruled academically ineligible for the second semester.
UND’s quintet of Aaron Anderson, Brandon Brekke, Troy Huff, Josh Schuler and Jamal Webb produced 65.4 percent of UND’s points in 2010-11, which was tops among any freshman class in the country. As sophomores, that unit upped that number to 70.9 percent of the team’s scoring (1,526 of 2,153). However, as sophomores, that unit had company at the top of the national charts. The Memphis sophomores, a unit UND edged out last season (63.9 percent as freshmen), produced 73.6 percent (1,923 of 2,614) and NDSU’s sophomores concluded the Bison season scoring 71.3 percent (1,564 of 2,194) of their team’s points. So far, the 2012-13 juniors, which includes the addition of JUCO-transfer Alonzo Traylor, have accounted for 72.6 (1,245 of 1,718) percent of the team’s scoring through 26 games.
Seven teams on UND’s 2011-12 docket advanced to postseason tournaments, including four to the NCAA Tournament (Kansas, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota State). UND beat two of those teams at home (Montana and South Dakota State). North Dakota State and Western Illinois both made the CBI Invitational, while GWC foe Utah Valley earned an at-large bid to join UND in the CIT Tournament.The schedule does not get any easier in 2012-13, as UND’s slate has seven more teams on it that advanced to postseason tournaments. Kansas State advanced to the Round of 32 of the NCAA Tournament. Northern Iowa made the second round of the NIT. Both Montana and South Dakota State lost their first games in the NCAA Tournament. Bowling Green and Weber State joined UND in the CIT Postseason Tournament, while NDSU lost in the first round of the CBI Invitational.
UND split its four contests against Big Sky opponents in 2011-12. The Green and White defeated eventual regular season and tournament champion Montana 88-81 in overtime at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. UND also split a home-and-home series with Idaho State and lost at Sacramento State (75-64) after leading the Hornets by six at halftime.