The St. Thomas Men’s basketball team has the chance to put an exclamation point on their rise to the top of the Summit League this weekend. Tonight, they play the #1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits, and then go immediately on the road to play #3 Oral Roberts on Saturday. They go into the game tonight with a 4 game D1 win streak, a home win streak that extends into last season, the best defense in the Summit League, and on top of the league standings. The stakes are high, and it is early in the conference schedule.
So Dak State @ St. Thomas 1/11/2024
Last season UST at home beat SDSU by six 60-54. Summit League Pre-Season POY Zeke Mayo in that game was unstoppable with 23, including going 5-8 from 3. Matt Mims has returned from injury and picked up right where he left off. Add in Charlie Easley‘s two-way play and it makes up for a very formidable opponent coming into St. Paul tonight. UST should win tonight based on their superior play on the perimeter on both ends. SDSU is not going to have many easy shots from 3, and conversely, they have some of the worst defense on the 3 point arc in America. UST simply has too many shooters for SDSU to defend effectively.
Saint Thomas @ Oral Roberts 1/13/2024
Oral Roberts gets two home games this weekend, and should handedly take care of South Dakota tonight. This is a game where I hope Coach Tauer pushed the Athletic Department to get a flight to Tulsa, as that is not an easy place to travel to over land. Mabee Center in Tulsa is a tough place to play, this is the tougher of the two matchups this weekend. ORU was undefeated at home, including a win over city-rival Tulsa, until they got beat by a very good Weber State team by 5, in a game they led by 8. Oral Roberts is going to have to play at UST’s pace, and if they can hold Issac McBride to less than 20, that gives them their best chance. If St. Thomas can make this a rock fight, they will win.
Credit where Credit is Due
This week Brooks Allen won the RTS Defensive Player of the week, well earned. Now here’s a veteran guy who rarely turns the ball over, scraps on both ends for rebounds, and is good for a block and a steal a game. True team player. Drake Dobbs at the free throw line is darn near automatic, 10th in the nation in Free Throw Percentage. Further, Mr Dobbs is that he is 38th in the country in Assists/Turnover percentage. Parker Bjorklund passed a milestone of 1000 career points in his most recent game. He is only 69 points away from becoming the first player in the UST D1 era to have 1000 D1 points. Finally, the team as a whole despite losing two elite three point shooters is at exactly the same rank, 24th in the country in 3 point rate.
Final Thoughts on Big Sky/Summit League Challenge
Commissioner Fenton should be thanking former Commissioner Tom Douple for inviting UST into the Summit League. St. Thomas’s athletics department won every game, men and women’s, and contributed 271 points to the summit league, while only allowing the Big Sky 213 points. Net UST Difference 58 points, total margin of victory for the Summit League 102 points. Can UST take half of the credit for the win? Sure, why not. Good Winning UST Hoops. I hope that this format is able to expand to other challenges with the Horizon League, or Mo Valley. It seems that every team complains about scheduling and this format is fun, allows each team a home game, and promotes attention to Mid-Major hoops programs.
1.) Even though UST is ranked 24th in 3 point rate again, they are shooting it 46.3% of the time versus 44.9% last year. Pretty remarkable that level of production was absorbed by the team, who are now shooting it more often.
2.) Raheem Anthony has to be very very far ahead of anyone for Summit League Newcomer of the year. He should be running away with it. I hope SL Voters are able to see his massive impact on the improvement of the Tommies Defense.
3.) The last 5 Summit League champion had a Ken Pom rank less than 100. UST is the highest ranked team so far at 132.