Bison tune up for league play with rout of Northland College
FARGO -- It's like a birthday. When you turn 20, 30 or 40 and so on, it generally has a different feel. Same goes with college basketball home-court winning streaks.North Dakota State notched its 30th straight on Wednesday night with a predictabl...
FARGO - It’s like a birthday. When you turn 20, 30 or 40 and so on, it generally has a different feel. Same goes with college basketball home-court winning streaks.
North Dakota State notched its 30th straight on Wednesday night with a predictable 105-47 win over Northland College (Wis.). At 30, this streak is getting serious, and so will the Bison schedule from here on out starting with the Summit League opener Sunday afternoon against the University of Denver.
NDSU will enter conference play with a 10-3 record and a player rotation that looks to be rather stable. Freshman Dylan Miller has emerged as the starting center, and it didn’t take him long to make a difference against the Lumberjacks, who had no physical answer for the 6-foot-8, 235-pound Miller in front of 2,231 fans.
“Always nervous at first, but after a while, my role today was to just go out there and play,” Miller said. “My confidence is starting to build.”
It was NDSU’s first trip to at least 100 points since early in the 2010 season against Mayville State. And it also discovered a weakness in the Scheels Arena hockey scoreboard, which only goes to two digits.
It was 14-3 before five minutes were played and 50-26 at halftime. The most impressive aspect of NDSU’s game: effort. Despite playing an undermanned Division III opponent that fell to 0-11, the Bison still didn’t go through the motions, and the evidence was provided by 19 offensive rebounds in the first half alone. Dexter Werner and Miller had five each.
“Very pleased, especially coming out of the holiday break,” said Bison head coach Dave Richman. “I liked our second effort ... Dylan gave great energy to start.”
With Miller taking the opening minutes, it allows Richman to bring 6-foot-6 junior Werner and 6-9 senior Chris Kading off the bench, an interior sixth and seventh men crucial to competing in the balanced Summit League. Miller finished with 19 points, hitting 9 of 10 field goals, and grabbing nine rebounds.
The Bison had a whopping 57-18 rebounding advantage and shot 60 percent for the game. Miller led six players in double figures with 19 points.
“Tonight was an opportunity to get comfortable on the court again and get ready for league and the intense atmosphere we’ll be in,” said Bison guard Khy Kabellis. “We’ve had a good nonconference schedule - we played without some seniors - but I like where we’re at right now.”
The 30 straight wins is the sixth-longest active streak in Division I basketball. Moreover, the feel of the hockey-built arena into basketball for the second year is getting a warmer reception by fans, with the Denver game on Sunday expected to be close to a full house.
The Pioneers are 8-5 - 3-4 in their last seven games - and will play South Dakota State on Friday in the first game of the two-game Dakota trip.
“It gets real real,” Richman said, when asked if the schedule gets real now. “It’s what we’ve talked about, the Summit League is at an all-time (RPI) high. We need to focus on being 1-0. Denver is a team that is tough to prep because of what they do and how they execute.”