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Summit League Notebook: Omaha’s offense is helping them climb the standings

Since conference play started, Omaha has found their footing on offense.

NCAA Basketball: Nebraska Omaha at Minnesota Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Things were testy in Tulsa last week. In the rarest of rare occurrences, both Tulsa coach Frank Haith and UConn coach Dan Hurley were ejected in an American Conference game after exchanging “pleasantries” near midcourt.

There was a disagreement between the coaches, but what else is new in college basketball?

Marques Pettigrew, Bill Ek and Pat Adams decided the game needed enhanced policing and banished both to their respective locker rooms. It was a bizarre turn of events and neither coach agreed with what happened – obviously.

That was weird.

Then things turned downright befuddling across town with South Dakota at Oral Roberts less than 24 hours later. Late in the first half, South Dakota’s Stanley Umude was whistled for his third foul – a questionable call at first glance – and South Dakota coach Todd Lee wanted an official to explain their reasoning for the foul call.

Instead, John Floyd, Jim Shipper and Rhett Lamoreaux opted to ignore Todd Lee, and when he shouted “WHAT DID HE DO?” they slapped him with a technical foul. Lee, still in search of an explanation, kept hollering. Then, seconds later he was levied another technical foul and was ejected from the contest.

He offered up a few choice words on his way out, and then had to basically sit in an office that’s a few feet from a tunnel where anyone can see the court and all the action.

It was beyond stunning.

The Coyotes fell behind by as many as 15 in the second half, but they ended up with Umude shooting a three at the end of regulation to potentially tie the game. He missed and South Dakota left Tulsa quite upset.

So heads up if you arrive in Tulsa: your head coach might not be able to stick around for long.

On tap this week

Wednesday, Jan. 23
South Dakota 70, North Dakota 56

Thursday, Jan. 24
Omaha at Purdue Fort Wayne
North Dakota State at South Dakota State

Saturday, Jan. 26
Western Illinois at South Dakota
Omaha at South Dakota State
Denver at Purdue Fort Wayne
North Dakota State at Oral Roberts

Game of the week

Omaha at South Dakota State, 4:15 p.m. CST Saturday, ESPN+

Picked to finish eighth in the Summit League, Omaha’s rise to the top of the Summit League standings is quite remarkable. But the emergence of JT Gibson, Matt Pile and KJ Robinson, to go along with Zach Jackson and Mitch Hahn, has provided the Mavericks with the offensive firepower to compete in the league.

Against South Dakota State, though, the Mavericks will have to find a way to overcome Mike Daum and Co. Last year, the Jackrabbits dominated Omaha during two regular season matchups.

Omaha will have its hands full this week. Purdue Fort Wayne awaits on Thursday and South Dakota State after that. By the end of the week, a bigger picture could be painted for the crew that was all but counted out before the season started.

News and notes

  • Weekly Mike Daum watch: Back-to-back efforts against Denver and South Dakota yielded only 14 points for South Dakota State’s Mike Daum a couple of weeks ago. However, the slump didn’t last long. He torched Oral Roberts for 37 points and then North Dakota for 34 points, and he now has 2,740 career points -- good enough for 20th all-time in NCAA history. In the process, he passed Hank Gathers and Reggie Lewis, and next in Daum’s crosshairs are J.J. Redick (2,769) and Allan Houston (2,801) -- two pretty recognizable names.
  • Oh, and Daum was named the league’s Player of the Week. No surprise there.
  • Injury to keep an eye on: Oral Roberts’ Emmanuel Nzekwesi sprained his ankle against South Dakota last week and did not play against Denver Sunday. The health of the junior forward will be worth watching as ORU begins a four-game homestand.
  • Live and die by the 3: Purdue Fort Wayne is one of the nation’s top 3-point shooting teams. But a frigid performance (20 percent) from beyond the arc at Western Illinois led to the Mastodons’ 87-58 blowout loss.

Power rankings

1. South Dakota State (15-6, 5-1): The Jackrabbits have climbed to No. 121 in NCAA Net rankings, but are still looking like a No. 15 or No. 16 seed in most bracketology projections, though.

2. Omaha (11-8, 5-1): The Mavericks have scored at least 75 points in each of their five conference victories. The 75-point outing against South Dakota was Omaha’s lowest point total since posting 61 against Oregon on Dec. 8.

3. Purdue Fort Wayne (12-9, 4-2): John Konchar, currently with 1,827 career points, is 15 points away from becoming the Mastodons’ all-time leading scorer. He will probably reach that this week.

4. Oral Roberts (8-14, 4-3): Freshman forward DeShang Weaver has become a marksman for the Golden Eagles, knocking down 22 of 44 3-point attempts during Summit League play. And that’s after missing all four of his tries at Denver over the weekend.

5. South Dakota (8-11, 2-4): Stanley Umude continues to torch the Summit League with 20 or more points in four of his last five games.

6. North Dakota State (9-11, 3-3): Get to know Geu -- Deng Geu. The junior forward leads the Bison in scoring with 11.9 points per game, and he does it by coming off the bench. He’s also posted 12.7 points during Summit League games.

7. North Dakota (8-12, 2-5): Before last night’s loss to South Dakota, the Fighting Hawks’ last three losses had been by an average of 2.3 points per game.

8. Western Illinois (7-13, 2-5): The formula is simple for the Leathernecks -- they’re 2-0 when C.J. Duff scores 10 or more points in league games, and 0-5 when he doesn’t. He posted 30 in a win against Purdue Fort Wayne last week.

9. Denver (7-14, 2-5): Two-game winning streak for the Pioneers, so that’s something!