Malik Willingham thinks that the Mavs have an opportunity to make some magic happen down the final stretch. If that’s the case, then the Mavs have got to play with a rabbit in their hat this weekend as they take on two more enemies standing in the way of their high aspirations.
The path to two wins will look a little different Friday and Saturday, as the Mavs will not have the comfort of balling in front of their home fans. The Augustana Vikings and Wayne State Warriors are on deck for the Mavs, and if things go the way they did earlier this season, the Mavs are looking at another split.
After Saturday’s win, the Mavs are flying high and will be riding the momentum they created, heading into their next two matchups.
“Rebounding, defense, hitting shots, seeing the ball go through the rim. That helps create an energy that we can start a run on,” said Willingham.
In order to start a win streak for the first time in over a month, the Mavs must first take down the Warriors, who they handled earlier in the year, 96-89 at home. In those close games, setting matters a lot. The Mavs will need to bring their A-game regardless, but especially Friday in this matchup.
The Warriors are led by a big three of Antonio Marshall (14.7 ppg), Avery Lewis (14.1) and Carmelo Harris (13.1). Marshall and Harris are volume 3-point shooters, each taking over 100 shots from downtown on the season and are each shooting above 34%.
In their last meeting, the Mavs nearly hit triple digits on the scoreboard, and that night, their secret weapon was Freshman Malcolm Jones, who played out of his mind, scoring 23 points on 75% shooting. Another interesting stat to take into consideration is that there were six technical fouls assessed in that game, two on Minnesota State, four on Wayne State. If these two teams pick up where they left off, this game will be a fun one to follow.
“We have had games where we play extremely hard in the last ten minutes of the game trying to play catch-up,” said Mavs coach, Matthew Margenthaler. “We just need to play that way for the first 30 minutes, too.”
Continuing their road trip, the Mavs will travel to Sioux Falls, South Dakota to take on the Vikings. The Vikings took home the dub last time the teams collided, in a low-scoring affair, 63-57. Jaden Graves of the Vikings was unstoppable that day, scoring 35 points on 11-18 from the field and 8-13 from downtown, while adding seven rebounds for good measure.
This time around, the Mavs will have gameplanned for Graves in order to prevent him from taking over again. Other players to look out for if Graves struggles are Ryan Miller and Isaac Fink, who are each averaging 13.1 ppg, leading the team. Fink also dominates the glass, collecting 7.8 rebounds per game. If Kelby Kramer is back in the lineup for the Mavs, he will be a major key to their success.
“We just have to put a complete game together,” said Willingham. That has been the issue as of late for the Mavs, but after Saturday’s contest against the University of Sioux Falls, they showed that they are capable of putting together a complete game. Their talents will be on display again Friday and Saturday. The Mavs may be picking up the pieces at the right time, but only time will tell how far they can go.
Write to Hayden Lee at Hayden.Lee@mysmsu.edu
Header photo: MSU Men’s Basketball is away this weekend facing up against Wayne State Friday, Feb. 10 and Augustana Saturday, Feb. 11. (Dylan Long)