Bison Men Look to Maintain League Lead at IUPUI Thursday, Western Illinois Saturday
Release: January 15, 2013
THIS WEEK: The first-place North Dakota State men's basketball team (15-3, 6-0) faces ninth-place IUPUI (6-14, 1-5) at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 17, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,500) in Indianapolis and first-place Western Illinois (14-3, 6-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, at Western Hall (5,139) in Macomb, Ill.
WATCH: Thursday's game at IUPUI will be available by subscription to IUPUI All Access at IUPUIJags.com. Saturday's game at Western Illinois will be available to NDSU All Access subscribers on GoBison.com.
LISTEN: KFGO-AM 790 of Fargo and Bison Radio Network affiliate KLTC-AM 1460 in Dickinson will broadcast live with KFGO's Scott Miller calling the play-by-play. 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: Thursday will be the 11th meeting between North Dakota State and IUPUI dating back to 2007-08. IUPUI has won five of the last six meetings to take a 7-3 lead in the series. NDSU won 84-79 at The Jungle in Indianapolis last year, and IUPUI won 74-68 in Fargo. The Bison are 2-3 in Indianapolis.
Saturday will be the 12th meeting between North Dakota State and Western Illinois dating back to 2007-08. NDSU leads the series 6-5 but has lost four straight. The Fighting Leathernecks won all three meetings last year 55-51 in Macomb, 77-64 in Fargo, and 58-53 in the Summit League quarterfinals in Sioux Falls.
ABOUT IUPUI: The Jaguars have lost four straight to drop to 6-14 overall and are 1-5 in The Summit League after a 90-79 loss at Omaha last Thursday. John Hart leads the Jaguars with 14.2 points per game and Donovan Gibbs is the leading rebounder with 6.3 per game. The top returning scorer from last year's 14-18 team that placed seventh in the league is Ian Chiles, who has missed six straight and 16 of 20 games due to injury. Todd Howard (Louisville, 1993) has a 20-32 record in his second season as head coach at IUPUI after 10 years as associate head coach and six as assistant coach.
ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS: The Fighting Leathernecks are off to their best start in 55 years at 14-3 overall and 6-0 in The Summit League heading into Thursday's game with South Dakota State. Terell Parks leads Western Illinois with 13.9 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game. Summit League Defensive Player of the Year Ceola Clark averages 11.9 points, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Head coach Jim Molinari (Illinois Wesleyan, 1977) has a 61-78 record in his fifth season at Western Illinois and a 284-263 record in his 19th season overall.
NDSU TOPS OAKLAND FOR 8th STRAIGHT HOME WIN: North Dakota State won its eighth straight home game 73-65 over Oakland last Saturday. TrayVonn Wright had career highs of 20 points, five blocks and four 3-pointers, and Lawrence Alexander tied a season-high with 19 points and led the Bison in rebounding for the second straight game with eight boards while dishing out five assists. NDSU committed 19 turnovers and went 10-for-22 at the foul line but made up for that shooting 60.5 percent overall including 11-for-20 from the 3-point arc. Wright, who was 8-for-11 in the game, has shot 21-for-32 from the field over the last four contests (.656). Marshall Bjorklund was perfect from the field for the fourth time this year going 7-for-7 with a free throw for 15 points.
BISON HOLD OFF FORT WAYNE, 67-55: Fort Wayne trimmed a 16-point second-half deficit to three points, but North Dakota State closed the game with a 10-1 run to beat IPFW 67-55 last Thursday. Taylor Braun scored 16 points to lead four NDSU players in double figures. Marshall Bjorklund scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting, Lawrence Alexander notched his second career double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds, and TrayVonn Wright chipped in 10 points. NDSU shot 57.1 percent and held IPFW to 37.7 percent. Luis Jacobo scored 21 points and the Mastodons shot 10-of-26 from the 3-point line.
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 54th IN SECOND NCAA RPI: North Dakota State dropped eight spots to 54th in the second NCAA Rating Percentage Index released Monday, Jan. 14. 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 (81) and Oakland (151).
BISON UP TO 10th IN MID-MAJOR POLL: North Dakota State jumped one spot to 10th in the eighth CollegeInsider.com Mid-Major Top 25 released Monday, Jan. 14. It is the highest ranking in program history, passing the No. 11 held last week 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 and 11th the past five 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 94 career blocks. Wright has blocked a shot in 17 straight games, including a career-high five blocks in the home win over Oakland.
NDSU Career Blocks, top four
1. Jason Wenschlag, 220 (1989-93)
2. Joe Regnier, 146 (1985-89)
3. TrayVonn Wright, 94 (2010-present)
BISON BLOCKING SHOTS AT NEAR-RECORD PACE: North Dakota State's average of 4.8 blocks per game ranked 57th nationally through Sunday and would be third best in school history. NDSU has blocked at least four shots in 14 of 18 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 .721 shooting percentage leads the nation for the third 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 (.673) ahead of Indiana's Cody Zeller (.624).
SCORING DEFENSE: North Dakota State ranked 22nd nationally through Sunday allowing just 57.4 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 seven 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 nine categories in the 10th NCAA statistics report through
Sunday, Jan. 13. Individually, Marshall
Bjorklund ranked first in field-goal percentage (.721).
NDSU in the NCAA Stats, all games through Jan. 13
14th - FG percentage (.488)
22nd - scoring defense (57.4)
25th - FG percentage defense (.380)
26th - winning percentage (.833)
28th - 3FG percentage (.385)
30th - scoring margin (+13.6)
33rd - total points scored (1,279)
35th - fewest turnovers per game (11.7)
48th - fewest personal fouls per game (15.5)
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 TIES MILES WITH 99 WINS: Saul
Phillips is in his sixth season as head coach at North Dakota State and is
tied with current Nebraska coach Tim Miles for fourth place on the
school's all-time wins list with a 99-70 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, 99-70, 2007-present
Tim Miles, 99-71, 2001-07
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.