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Eric Peterson, Published January 31 2013

Bison men roar past Kangaroos

FARGO – While the temperature was below zero outside the Bison Sports Arena on Thursday evening, Saul Phillips had a warm fuzzy feeling inside the building.

That’s because the North Dakota State head coach liked what he saw from his defense. Missouri-Kansas City shot 26 percent from the field against the Bison. That stinginess sparked NDSU to a 71-34 victory in Summit League men’s basketball before 1,741 fans.

Those 34 points tied the lowest point total a four-year school has scored against the Bison since 1950. NDSU also held Jamestown College to 34 points in 2006.

“That warms my heart on a cold January evening,” Phillips said of his team’s defensive effort. “That is pretty special.”

The Bison (17-5, 8-2 Summit) snapped a two-game losing streak and are tied for first place in the conference.

“That’s where we expect to stay,” Phillips said.

Neither team scored in the game’s first five minutes, but the Bison shook off that sluggish start to shoot 48 percent (12 of 25) from the field in the opening 20 minutes. NDSU never let the Kangaroos find their offensive rhythm. UMKC shot 24 percent (5 of 21) from the first in the first half. The Kangaroos didn’t hit double digits until the final minute of the first half. The Bison took a 28-12 lead into halftime.

“That’s one of the big things we rely on during games,” said Bison freshman guard Kory Brown, who had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals. “If we are not scoring well, we can still stay in games. … We had a good 40 minutes of defensive basketball.”

The Bison scored 24 of 28 points during one stretch in the first half to push their lead into double digits for good. Sophomore point guard Lawrence Alexander scored seven points during that stretch, including a 3-pointer from the left wing. NDSU built a 26-9 lead after 6-foot-8 freshman forward Chris Kading score off a rebound with 1 minute, 16 seconds until halftime. That capped the 24-4 Bison run.

The Bison poured it on in the final 20 minutes, scoring 43 points after halftime. NDSU had two separate runs of 11 consecutive points in the second half and led by as many as 41 points. Bison junior Mike Felt scored 12 of his game-high 14 points in the second half, shooting 4-for-5 from the 3-point line after halftime.

“I was just getting a couple of shots to fall to boost the confidence,” said Felt, who was 0-for-5 from the 3-point arc in the first half.

Bison junior TrayVonn Wright finished with seven points and six rebounds in 24 minutes. Earlier in the week, Phillips wasn’t sure Wright would be able to play after suffering a foot injury in Saturday’s loss at South Dakota State. Phillips was encouraged with what he saw from the 6-foot-7 Wright, who was 3-for-6 from the floor.

“I was very pleased with him and I was delighted I could get him out of there at the end,” Phillips said of Wright. “He was playing pretty heavy in the rotation when he was in there. He looked like he was moving well. I thought he did a lot of things well.”

The Bison host the University of South Dakota at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bison Sports Arena.

UMKC (6-17, 3-7 Summit): Kirksey 0-6 2-2 2, Reid 3-5 1-2 7, Tyler 2-7 2-2 8, Washington 0-0 0-0 0, Hall 3-5 1-2 9, Rogers 1-5 0-1 2, Burke 0-5 0-0 0, Wedel 0-3 0-0 0, Staton 0-2 0-0 0, Johnson 2-3 1-2 6, Korver 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-42 7-13 34.

NDSU (17-5, 8-2): VandenBergh 1-4 0-0 3, Wright 3-6 1-2 7, Bjorklund 6-9 0-1 12, Alexander 4-8 0-0 9, Brown 4-5 4-6 12, Newell 0-0 1-2 1, Felt 4-11 2-2 14, Zastrow 0-1 1-4 1, Mauch 0-1 1-2 1, Kading 2-6 3-4 7, Aaberg 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 26-53 13-25 71.

Half: NDSU 28, UMKC 12. 3-point goals: UMKC 5-13 (Kirksey 0-1, Tyler 2-4, Hall 2-2, Rogers 0-1, Burke 0-1, Wedel 0-2, Franklin 0-1, Johnson 1-1), NDSU 6-21 (VandenBergh 1-3, Wright 0-2, Alexander 1-4, Brown 0-1, Felt 4-10, Zastrow 0-1). Total fouls: UMKC 18, NDSU 13. Rebounds: UMKC 24 (Reid 6), NDSU 43 (Kading 7). Assists: UMKC 4 (Washington 3), NDSU 12 (Alexander 3, Zastrow 3). Steals: UMKC 6 (Reid 2), NDSU 11 (Brown 3). Turnovers: UMKC 18 (Tyler 5), NDSU 11 (VandenBergh 2, Brown 2). A-1,741.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com