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Jeff Kolpack, Published January 16 2014

Bison in command with win against Omaha

FARGO – The Bison Sports Arena is no longer a track and field facility, and North Dakota State had no intention of traveling back in time on Thursday night. The Bison kept high-flying, fast-breaking Nebraska-Omaha from running all over the place.

The nation’s leader in field-goal percentage won out over one of the country’s top-scoring teams. NDSU was solid all night in taking a 91-69 victory over the Mavericks to improve to 2-1 in the Summit League.

It was the conference home opener, and 3,274 fans saw NDSU hit 32 of 59 field goals for 54 percent. The Bison came in shooting 51.6 percent, which ranked them ahead of Gonzaga’s 51.5 percent and UCLA’s 51.4.

“It’s cool to hear,” said Bison center Jordan Aaberg, “but it’s just part of our offense. It does show how balanced our team is.”

Here was the definition of balance against Omaha: The Bison put six players in double-figure scoring, led by Taylor Braun with 20 points. After dropping the league opener at Indiana Purdue-Fort Wayne, the Bison responded with two solid outings.

The Bison also looked like a national leader in blocked shots. They had 11 and finished one away from tying a team record set against Wisconsin-Green Bay in 2006. TrayVonn Wright led that statistic with three blocks.

“That stuff truly does not do it for me,” said Bison head coach Saul Phillips, “but what it shows is we played with a high motor tonight.”

The Bison grabbed an early 22-7 lead and were never really in trouble after that. It was 41-31 at halftime when the Bison scored eight of the first 10 points for a commanding lead.

Another brief spurt of four points and the Bison outscored the Mavericks 12-3 in the first five minutes and it was 53-34.

Scoring came from all avenues, but nobody was more dependable than Braun, who hit 7 of 11 field goals and 5 of 6 free throws. Aaberg had one of his best nights in a conference game, coming off the bench for eight points when the game was still in flux.

“I’ve been trying to get more aggressive, especially when Marshall gets in foul trouble,” Aaberg said, referring to Bjorklund. “I want to get out there and contribute on both ends.”

Omaha came in averaging 83.3 points a game, but never got much of a transition game with NDSU’s shooting accuracy. The high percentage this year had Phillips joking his shooting camp should be packed next summer.

“It’s a function of getting good shots,” Phillips said. “I’ve had much better teams at playing H-O-R-S-E. This is not the best shooting team we’ve had, but it means this team has figured a way to get better shots.”

UNO (10-7, 0-2 Summit): Rostampour 0-4 1-2 1, Karhoff 3-8 0-0 6, Patterson 2-7 6-7 11, Carter 5-10 4-5 16, Tyus 0-2 0-0 0, Phillips 1-6 0-0 3, Steffensmeier 1-3 0-0 3, Simmons 8-15 1-2 21, Hagerbaumer 3-3 0-0 6. Totals: 24-60 12-16 69.

NDSU (13-5, 2-1 Summit): Wright 4-8 0-0 10, Bjorklund 5-8 1-3 11, Alexander 3-11 6-6 14, Brown 4-6 2-2 10, Braun 7-11 5-6 20, Felt 4-6 2-2 13, Dupree 0-0 0-0 0, Kading 1-4 0-0 2, Aaberg 4-5 0-0 8, Werner 0-0 3-4 3. Totals: 32-59 19-23 91.

Halftime: NDSU 41, UNO 31. Total fouls: UNO 18, NDSU 18. Fouled out: Karhoff, Phillips. Rebounds: UNO 30 (Rostampour 6); NDSU 38 (Braun 8). 3-point goals: UNO 9-21 (Patterson 1-3, Carter 2-4, Tyus 0-1, Bradley 0-1, Phillips 1-4, Steffensmeier 1-1, Simmons 4-7); NDSU (Wright 2-6, Alexander 2-4, Braun 1-3, Felt 3-4, Kading 0-2). Assists: UNO 13 (Carter 4); NDSU 17 (Alexander 5). Turnovers: UNO 15 (Karhoff 4); NDSU 13 (Braun 4). A-3,274.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.


Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia