Men’s basketball ready for NSIC play

The Minnesota State men’s basketball team are gearing up to hit the road once again, as they look to continue their winning ways during the 2016-2017. The Mavericks will be playing in their sixth and seventh-consecutive road games to start the year. They have yet to have a regular season home game in Bresnan Arena this year. They had one exhibition game to begin the season at home, where they defeated St. John’s 99-69.

The Mavericks are entering the weekend with a 4-1 overall record. They are yet to see Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) action but that will change this weekend as they take on Wayne State and No. 21 Augustana.

On Friday, Minnesota State opens up its weekend in Wayne, Nebraska against the Wayne State Wildcats. Wayne State enters the weekend holding on to a 1-5 record and 0-1 in the NSIC. They are on a four-game losing streak with their lone win coming on November 11 over Missouri Western. Last weekend, they suffered a double-overtime loss to Eastern New Mexico and fell to Nebraska-Kearney the following night.

Kendall Jacks leads the Wildcats in scoring while averaging 14 points a night. Matt Thomas follows him with 11 points per game and Jordan Cornelius is keeping up with his average of 10 points per game, while also averaging 5.7 rebounds a night, according to Wayne State’s athletic site.

Minnesota State holds the advantage by quite a bit in head-to-head match-ups with a 20-3 overall record. The two teams met last year on December 5 where Minnesota State picked up a 75-59 win. The Mavericks’ then-junior Jon Fuqua had 16 points and seven rebounds while then-freshman Cole Harper had 15 points and nine rebounds. Then-freshman Joey Witthus also supplied 11 points in the victory.

On Saturday, the Mavs head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to face off against No. 21 Augustana. The Vikings have won their past two games to put their record at 5-1 and 1-0 in conference play. Minnesota State holds the advantage in head-to-head with them as well with a 62-50 record. On November 21, Augustana defeated Wayne State in overtime and easily defeated Peru State by 23 points.

Leading the way for the Vikings has been Jordan Spencer, who is averaging 15.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, adding 44 assists on the year. Mike Busack has been averaging 11.2 points with 5.5 rebounds and Adam Beyer is averaging 9.7 points and a team high 5.7 rebounds per game.

The two teams met twice last year and Augustana earned wins in both games. On December 4 in Sioux Falls, the Vikings won 97-68. On January 9 in Mankato, the Vikings won 101-91. In the most recent encounter, Fuqua put up 20 points and grabbed nine boards while Witthus had 16 points, shooting 50 percent from the three-point line.

Minnesota State is riding a four-game winning streak and is being led in scoring by Witthus, who has been averaging 18.8 points and six rebounds a game. There are five more Mavs that are averaging double-digit scoring with Fuqua having 15.2 and 7.4 rebounds, junior guard Charlie Brown at 14.6, senior guard Aarias Austin at 11.4, senior forward AJ Patty with 11, and sophomore Cole Harper averaging 10.

Minnesota State plays Wayne State at 8 p.m., Friday and will play Augustana at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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