Omaha has played a real gauntlet of opponents in the past couple of weeks. Playing at Kansas, Drake, Creighton, and Colorado. Omaha played last night in Colorado and then was in action tonight in Wyoming. So it seemed Omaha might be primed to come out without energy and the opposite happened. Although Omaha could never quite take the lead in the second half.
Where did Omaha find the energy? From Junior forward Wanyang Tut. The junior who is averaging 8.1 points per game coming into play tonight, scored a career-high 27 points and added 9 rebounds. Taking the rest of the Mavericks along with him. This isn’t unheard of for Tut. Last year Tut scored 19 in a game against North Dakota and 17 in a game against Oral Roberts. In his sophomore season after averaging 3.8 points per game during the season Tut exploded for 18 in an opening-round conference tournament win against North Dakota. Tut had help with Matt Pile scoring 14 points and 8 rebounds, and Ayo Akinwole adding 14. Had the Mavericks not given up 49 points in the second half they may have been able to pull off the upset as 9 point underdogs.
I am sure Coach Darrin Hansen was not looking for a moral victory tonight. Given the challenges his team has faced, it’s likely Hansen is disappointed in the loss. At the same time with the return of junior guard Marlon Ruffin from an ankle injury, the potential of a combination of Pile and Tut down low, and veteran lead guard Akinwole. There is some reason for optimism if players like Tut can consistently perform.