Courtesy: Russell Hons for
Conner Avants dunks home two of his team-high 22 points in last year's meeting with NDSU at The Betty.
Game Notes: Clash with Bison next in line for UND
Release: 12/07/2017
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- UND’s final non-conference home game is a big one as in-state rival North Dakota State pays a visit to the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center on Saturday. Tip-off with the Bison is set for 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised on MidcoSN.

This will be the final time the Bison travel to Grand Forks as a non-conference foe before renewing a conference rivalry next season in the Summit League. The two teams will play in Fargo in mid-January to wrap up a second-consecutive season of home-and-home play in non-conference action. 


All-time: UND leads 160-133
In Grand Forks: UND leads 96-44
Last Meeting: NDSU 87, UND 70 (Dec. 16, 2016; Grand Forks)
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. NDSU: 3-5
UND Head Coach Brian Jones vs. Richman: 1-3
NDSU Head Coach Dave Richman vs. UND: 3-1
NDSU Head Caoch Dave Richman vs. Jones: 3-1

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• The Bison hold a slight 5-3 edge in the non-conference games since both teams became Division I members. UND held a 133-97 advantage in North Central Conference regular-season action at the Division II level.• The road team each picked up a double-digit victory in the home-and-home series played last season. UND opened that up with a 74-56 victory on Dec. 7 before NDSU returned the favor with an 87-70 victory on Dec. 16.• It marked the 20th time in the all-time series and first since 1985 that UND posted a double-digit victory in Fargo.• The road teams coming out victorious in the same season is not that rare as it happened in four of the last seven seasons both teams were in the NCC (1997-2004).• NDSU is the only one UND’s six December opponents that did not participate in a postseason tournament last season. The Bison finished the 2016-17 season with a 19-11 record.

The Fighting Hawks went 11-2 at The Betty last season and own a 122-55 record in the building that opened prior to the 2004-05 season. UND is off to a 2-1 start at home this season and has now won eight-consecutive home openers.

The Fighting Hawks have two more non-conference road games before commencing Big Sky play at home against Idaho on Dec. 29. That two-game stretch includes tilts against South Dakota State (Dec. 12) and Gonzaga (Dec. 16). Those two teams played each other in the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament in Salt Lake City last March. Top-seeded Gonzaga, who went on to finish runner-up in the tournament to North Carolina, defeated the 16th-seeded Jackrabbits 66-46.

UND’s last two visits to Brookings have been decided by one point (71-70 loss; Nov. 28, 2012) and two points (74-72 loss; Nov. 21, 2014). The Fighting Hawks last visited Spokane to face the Bulldogs in 1972.

• Head coach Dave Richman in his fourth season leading the NDSU program. The Bison finished last season 19-11 overall and 11-5 in the Summit League, which was good for second place. 
• The Bison were picked to finish third in the preseason Summit League poll. South Dakota State, who UND will play next on Tuesday in Brookings, was picked to win the league.
• NDSU arrives in Grand Forks with a 3-5 overall record this season, but is looking to snap a three-game losing streak, which is the first for the program since the 2011-12 season. 
• The Bison had won three in a row prior to that, including an impressive road win at Missouri State. The Bears were picked to win the Missouri Valley Conference for the first time since joining that league.
• Senior Paul Miller leads the team in scoring at 14.6 ppg and is one of two Bison averaging in double figures (Tyson Ward; 10.4 ppg). Miller ranks 20th on NDSU’s all-time scoring charts with 1,233 points.
• Miller also leads the team in rebounding (6.9/g) and assists (4.3/g).
• Ward was named the Summit League Player of the Week prior to NDSU’s three-game skid when he averaged 21.5 ppg and 6.5 rpg in wins over Florida A&M and Stetson. He had a career-high 26 points against the Hatters.
• Senior A.J. Jacobson and Miller both rank inside the top 10 for career 3-pointers made at NDSU. Jacobson is averaging 8.6 ppg and shooting 51.7 percent from beyond the arc (15-for-29) this season, while Miller has 16 makes on 50 attempts (32 percent). 
• The Bison are averaging 25 3-point attempts per game (201 total) and are shooting 35.3 perecnt from that range this season. NDSU only has attempted 238 field goals inside the arc.

When the Fighting Hawks score 80 or more points, good things tend to happen. A season ago, the team went 16-1 when reaching that plateau with its only loss coming to Arizona in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

So far this season, the Fighting Hawks are 3-0 when scoring 80-plus points and are averaging 78.1 ppg.

Sophomore guard Marlon Stewart began his collegiate career at Creighton and he scored 18 points in his return to Omaha on Tuesday. Stewart appeared in 13 games as a true freshman back in 2015-16 before transferring to UND following that campaign. He only scored seven points in his brief Creighton career and had eight points against his former team by halftime on Tuesday night.

The Bluejays went 20-15 during his lone season in Omaha and advanced to the quarterfinals of the National Invitational Tournament. 

The Fighting Hawks are off to a slow start from 3-point territory (26.3 percent; 41-for-156), but have made up for that with a 54.7 percent clip inside the arc. 

Overall, UND is shooting 44.9 percent from the field, which is the fourth best in the Big Sky Conference.

North Dakota was one of eight teams that played at the Vivint Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake City last March for the opening round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. The Fighting Hawks will play two of the other seven teams that were Iin SLC next week when they travel to both South Dakota State (Dec. 12) and Gonzaga (Dec. 16). The Jackrabbits, who was the West Region’s 16th-seed, played the top-seeded Bulldogs in the first round, falling 66-46 to the tournament’s eventual runner-up. 

The Fighting Hawks will not lose all of their Big Sky hardwood rivalries after joining the Summit League following this season. UND will be one of eight combined Big Sky and Summit League teams that will take part in a yearly series between the two conferences.

The four-year men’s basketball series will begin in 2018-19 when UND will be a first-year member of the Summit League. The Fighting Hawks are playing their final season of Big Sky basketball after a run of six years as a league member.

Each school will play one home game and road contest against separate schools from the other league during each of the four seasons. The Summit League is represented by UND, North Dakota State, Omaha and South Dakota State. Big Sky schools participating are Montana State, Montana, Idaho and Eastern Washington.

UND’s Big Sky-Summit Challenge Schedule
North Dakota at Montana State
Idaho at North Dakota
North Dakota at Montana
Eastern Washington at North Dakota
Montana State at North Dakota
North Dakota at Idaho
North Dakota at Eastern Washington
Montana at North Dakota 

UND enters the NDSU game ranked second in the Big Sky, averaging 8.8 steals per game. Led by junior Geno Crandall (15; 1.9.g) and sophomore Marlon Stewart (13; 1.6/g), the Fighting Hawks are forcing opponents into 15.5 turnovers per game and have registered 10 or more steals in three of their last six games.

Sophomore Marlon Stewart scored just 26 points  (8.7 ppg) in his first three career games for UND, but is averaging nearly double that figure in his last five games (15.8 ppg), including a career-hig 24 points against Utah Valley (Nov. 25). That was the second 20-plus point game of the season for Stewart. He had a career-high nine helpers in UND’s last outing against Presentation (Nov. 28) and owns a 2:1 assist-to-turnover ration, which is fifth best in the Big Sky.

Junior Geno Crandall has achieved a growing list of “firsts” this season and he added another one in the overtime loss to Utah Valley (Nov. 25). For the first time in his career, Crandall notched a double-double with 15 points and a career-high 10 rebounds against the Wolverines. Crandall’s double-double is also the first of the season for a Fighting Hawk. Classmate Conner Avants was a rebound shy of his first career double-double against UVU (Nov. 25), finishing with 12 points and nine boards.

Junior Geno Crandall equaled his career-high with five steals against the Wolverines and now has 138 for his career, which ranks sixth on UND’s all-time charts. It was the fifth time during his career that he’s had five steals in a game. He needs only four steals to move past Aaron Anderson into fifth place on the all-time charts.

• Sophomore Kienan Walter buried a pair of 3-pointers in the same game for the first time in his career at Creighton (Dec. 5). He equaled his season-high with eight points to lead UND’s bench in scoring.
• Sophomore Marlon Stewart had 14 assists and 11 turnovers in his first four games. In his last four games, he has produced 14 assists again, but only committed three turnovers.
• With an 8.8 spg average, UND ranks 29th in the NCAA in that category through Wednesday’s action (Dec. 6). The Fighting Hawks trail only NCAA-leading Portland State (13.0/g) among Big Sky programs.
• UND averaged 11.0 spg during its first three-game homestand.
• Senior Dale Jones averaged 11.0 rpg during that three-game homestand and ranks second in the Big Sky in rebounding (7.5/g).
• True freshman Tray Buchanan leads UND’s reserves in scoring this season at 4.9 ppg. He opened his career by making his first seven free-throw attempts before missing his final two at Creighton (Dec. 5). His 77.8 percent clip leads the team.
• Junior guard Cortez Seales leads the team with six blocks in the early part of the season. He now has 29 blocks in 68 career games.

-- UND --

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