First Place On The Line When Bison Host Western Illinois Thursday, IUPUI Saturday
Release: February 13, 2013
THIS WEEK: Trailing by a one-half game with three to play, the North Dakota State men's basketball team (19-6, 10-3) can move into first place in The Summit League with a win over league-leading Western Illinois (18-5, 10-2) at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Bison Sports Arena (5,830) in Fargo. A victory would give NDSU a split with the Leathernecks this season, which could play into tiebreakers at the end of the regular season. The Bison host last-place IUPUI (6-20, 1-11) at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, and close the league schedule March 2 at Omaha.
WATCH: Live video of both games will be available by subscription to NDSU All Access on GoBison.com. Prices are $9.95 for a monthly subscription, $29.95 for four months, and $79.95 annually. Live stats are available on GoBison.com free of charge and also through the NDSU Bison mobile app for Android, iPhone and iPod Touch.
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 broadcastingas 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: Thursday will be the 13th meeting between North Dakota State and Western Illinois dating back to 2007-08. The Fighting Leathernecks have won five straight to even the series 6-6 including last month's 50-42 win in Macomb. Mike Felt scored 10 points, Marshall Bjorklund had nine, and Lawrence Alexander added eight points, seven rebounds and four assists for NDSU. The Bison have won 4 of 5 in Fargo.
Saturday will be the 12th meeting between North Dakota State and IUPUI dating back to 2007-08. IUPUI has won five of the last seven meetings to take a 7-4 lead in the series, but NDSU won 78-40 last month in Indianapolis. TrayVonn Wright scored 11 of his 16 points in the first half and grabbed seven rebounds for NDSU. Alexander scored 11 points and Jordan Aaberg had 10 points all in the second half. IUPUI has won 4 of 5 in Fargo.
ABOUT WESTERN ILLINOIS: The Fighting Leathernecks are 18-5 overall and lead The Summit League by a half game with a 10-2 record after beating Omaha 68-50 last week. Terell Parks leads the team with 12.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game, and Ceola Clark averages 11.5 points and a team-high 4.1 assists per game. Western Illinois ranks second nationally in fewest fouls per game (12.2), third in points allowed per game (52.4), and 25th in field-goal percentage allowed (.386). Head coach Jim Molinari (Illinois Wesleyan, 1977) has a 65-80 record in his fifth season at Western Illinois and a 288-265 record in his 19th season including stops at Northern Illinois, Bradley and Minnesota.
ABOUT IUPUI: The Jaguars have lost 10 straight to drop to 6-20 overall and 1-11 in The Summit League heading into Thursday's game at South Dakota State. IUPUI has two active players scoring in double figures led by Mitchell Patton with 13.8 points per game and Donovan Gibbs with 10.4 points and a team-high 6.3 rebounds per game. Patton is ninth in the nation shooting 59.5 percent from the field. Leading scorer John Hart (14.2 ppg) has been ruled academically ineligible and Ian Chiles and Marcellus Barksdale are out for the year with injuries. With three freshmen redshirting, IUPUI is down to seven scholarship players. Todd Howard (Louisville, 1993) has a 20-38 record in his second season as head coach at IUPUI after 10 years as the associate head coach and six as an assistant coach for Ron Hunter.
TWENTY-WIN SEASONS: North Dakota State is one victory shy of its third 20-win season as a Division I program behind the 2009 NCAA tournament team that finished 26-7 overall and the 2006-07 team that went 20-8 in coach Tim Miles' final season. NDSU has reached the 20-win mark 12 times in school history including four straight from 1993-94 to 1996-97 under Tom Billeter. NDSU's school record for wins is 26 by Saul Phillips' 2008-09 team and George Dewey's 1924-25 squad (26-5).
TEN-GAME HOME WINNING STREAK: North Dakota State is 24th in the nation with a 10-game home winning streak, which is NDSU's longest at the Bison Sports Arena since having a 13-game streak snapped Feb. 14, 2009, in a 74-69 loss to Southern Utah. NDSU won its final two home games of 2007-08 against Centenary and Oral Roberts and won its first 11 home games of 2008-09. NDSU's 10-game home streak is second best in The Summit League behind South Dakota State, which has won a league-record 28 straight and is second nationally behind Syracuse (37).
BJORKLUND CLOSING IN ON 500 CLUB: Junior forward Marshall Bjorklund needs three rebounds to become the 22nd player in North Dakota State history to reach 500 career rebounds. Bjorklund has 497 boards over 85 games for an average of 5.8 rebounds per game. The last two rebounders to reach 500 were Brett Winkelman in 2007-08 (1st, 874, 7.4 rpg) and Lucas Moormann in 2008-09 (19th, 527, 5.0 rpg). Bjorklund had a season-high 13 rebounds at South Dakota State and is averaging 9.4 rpg over the past five games.
LAST WEEK: North Dakota State lost 66-63 at Oakland last Thursday and won 58-54 at Fort Wayne last Saturday. Lawrence Alexander reached 20 points in consecutive games for the first time in his career scoring a season-high 21 points at OU and leading the Bison again with 20 at IPFW. The Bison committed a season-low five turnovers at IPFW and were down by as many as seven points in the first half before taking a 26-25 halftime lead. It was the largest deficit overcome by NDSU in a victory this season. TrayVonn Wright notched his third double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds at Oakland, and Marshall Bjorklund posted his first of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds at Fort Wayne.
PHILLIPS 10th IN SUMMIT LEAGUE WINS: North Dakota State head coach Saul Phillips took over sole possession of 10th place on the Summit League wins list with his 61st victory at Fort Wayne on Feb. 9. Phillips has a 61-42 mark in his sixth season in the league. The league record is 166 wins by Homer Drew at Valparaiso from 1988-2007. Oakland's Greg Kampe is the only other active coach in the Top 10 with 145 wins in third place.
BISON DRAW AKRON IN BRACKETBUSTERS: North Dakota State will play Akron in the Ramada Worldwide BracketBusters at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Feb. 22, on ESPN2. The Zips have won a nation's best 15 games to improve to 19-4 overall and 10-0 in the Mid-American Conference East Division entering Wednesday's game at Eastern Michigan. The matchup will feature two of the top shooters in Division I with NDSU's Marshall Bjorklund shooting 69.5 percent and Akron 7-footer Zeke Marshall shooting 69.2 percent. NDSU is 2-0 in BracketBusters games with a 77-69 win at Milwaukee in 2009 and last year's 86-73 home win over Western Michigan. NDSU is 3-2 against Mid-American Conference teams but has not played Akron. It will be NDSU's first appearance on ESPN2 since the 2009 Summit League championship.
BISON TIE SCORING DEFENSE RECORD AGAINST UMKC: North Dakota State tied a school record for scoring defense with a 71-34 win over Kansas City on Jan. 31. It was the fewest points allowed against a four-year school since 1950. The Bison also beat NAIA member Jamestown College 71-34 in February 2006. Kansas City shot 26 percent and had its lowest scoring output ever in a Summit League game.
BISON 67th IN SIXTH NCAA RPI: North Dakota State dropped two spots to 67th in the sixth NCAA Rating Percentage Index released Monday, Feb. 11. 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 (68), Oakland (115) and Western Illinois (135). The Bison were rated 46th, 54th, 53rd, 56th and 65th the past five weeks.
BISON 20th IN MID-MAJOR POLL: North Dakota State was 20th in CollegeInsider.com's Mid-Major Top 25 released Monday, Feb. 11. NDSU's had its highest ranking in program history Jan. 14 when the Bison were No. 10, 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 was ranked 25th, 25th, 22nd, 14th, 11th, 10th, 15th, 17th and 17th the past nine weeks.
WRIGHT THIRD IN CAREER BLOCKS: North Dakota State junior TrayVonn Wright is third in NDSU history with 101 career blocks. Wright blocked a shot in 19 straight games from Nov. 12 to Jan. 19, 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, 101 (2010-present)
BISON BLOCKING SHOTS AT NEAR-RECORD PACE: North Dakota State's average of 4.3 blocks per game ranked 82nd nationally through Sunday and would be third best in school history. NDSU has blocked at least four shots in 17 of 25 games with a season-low of one block at Oakland and twice against Kansas City, and a season-high nine blocks at Morehead State.
BJORKLUND LEADS NATION IN SHOOTING: After a six-week run as the national leader, North Dakota State forward Marshall Bjorklund's .695 shooting percentage ranked second 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 second among NCAA active career leaders.
NCAA Division I Active Career Leaders, FG%
1. Taylor Smith, Stephen F. Austin - .703
2. Marshall Bjorklund, North Dakota State - .673
3. Jordan Morgan, Michigan - .624
4. Cody Zeller, Indiana - .616
5. Jack Cooley, Notre Dame - .607
SCORING DEFENSE: North Dakota State ranked ninth nationally through Sunday allowing just 55.7 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 10 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 NCAA Division I statistics through Sunday, Feb. 10. Individually, Marshall Bjorklund ranked second in field-goal percentage (.695).
NDSU in the NCAA Stats, all games through
9th - scoring defense (55.7)
17th - FG percentage (.481)
17th - fewest turnovers per game (11.0)
20th - scoring margin (+12.6)
21st - FG percentage defense (.382)
38th - fewest personal fouls per game (15.6)
40th - rebound margin (+5.4)
42nd - 3FG percentage (.376)
42nd - winning percentage (.760)
44th - assist/turnover ratio (1.21)
OVERTIME GAMES: North Dakota State has a 10-6 record in overtime games since beginning Division I play in 2004-05. The Bison won their only overtime game this year 83-80 over Youngstown State in the Progressive Legends Classic at Duquesne. NDSU is 7-3 in OT against Summit League opponents, including a pair of double-overtime wins at South Dakota State in 2009-10 and home against Kansas City in 2010-11.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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 103-73 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, 103-73, 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.
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 in Vermillion; South Dakota State University in Brookings; and Western Illinois University in Macomb.
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 add Denver from the Western Athletic Conference in 2013-14, but Kansas City will leave for the WAC in 2013-14.