DU men’s basketball traveled to Brookings, SD to play the 42nd ranked (NCAA RPI) South Dakota State Jackrabbits on a New Years day tilt. The Jackrabbits entered the contest 11-3 as the Summit League favorite with five players averaging double figures. They were led by three seniors – Diondre Parks (17.6 ppg.), George Marshall (12.9 ppg.), Jake Bittle (11.4) ppg. joined by underclassmen Mike Daum (11.7 ppg.), Reed Tellinghuisen (10.0 ppg.). DU held South Dakota State to their third worst scoring contest of the season, holding these Jackrabbit scorers in check, but a glut of Pioneer turnovers determined the final outcome.
In the game, hot shooting Denver pulled within one point with 7:00 minutes to go but the Jackrabbits went on a scoring run, triggered by a South Dakota desperation three point bomb with time running out on the shot clock, which provided the push South Dakota State needed to polish off the pesky Pioneers – 68-59. The Pios had an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers. That – combined with a rebounding deficit of 7 boards and a free throw deficit of 8, left the Pioneers with an impossible hill to climb.
Denver shot 55.6% (20-of-36) for the game, while Summit League favorite South Dakota State shot 40.0% (20-of-50). The big difference in rebounds was on the offensive end where SDS had a huge 12-2 advantage which gave the Jackrabbits multiple opportunities on the offensive end.
Denver had nine players in double digit minutes and freshman forward C.J. Bobbitt returned to action. Senior forward Marcus Byrd led the team in points (16) and rebounds (6). Joe Rosga got the most minutes on the floor (35), most steals (3) and contributed 12 points. Nate Engesser chipped in with 11 points.
The Pioneers are now 8-6 and 0-1 in the Summit League. Sunday they play North Dakota State, the consensus second best team in the Summit League on the road Sunday at 12 PM MT. It doesn’t get any easier from here.
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