Jackrabbits seek 1st NCAA Tournament win
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy has no illusions that his team will win a shootout with fifth-seeded Maryland in their NCAA Tournament opener on Friday.
Nagy said the Jackrabbits will have to rely on defense and rebounding if they want a chance to win the first NCAA game in program history.
The 12th-seeded Jackrabbits (26-7) will also have to shoot better than they did in the Summit League tournament, which they managed to win despite poor shooting, Nagy said.
But Nagy doesn't plan to play a slowdown game, figuring neither team wants that.
''I would say that physically we don't match up to them,'' Nagy said. ''They're a much bigger team than us.''
Maryland (25-8) averages 76 points per game with balanced scoring.
The Terrapins are in no danger of looking past the Jackrabbits, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. Both teams played in an early season tournament in Cancun, and Turgeon watched the Jackrabbits play and was impressed. ''They have our attention,'' Turgeon said.
The Jackrabbits played in the NCAA Tournament in 2012 and 2013, losing in the first round both times. Maryland, meanwhile, has a 39-24 record in the NCAAs and is making its 26th appearance. The Terps won the national title in 2002.
Maryland has had a roller coaster season. The Terrapins raced to a 22-3 start and were ranked No. 2 in the second week of February. They stumbled at the end, losing four of six, and lost to Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
''Down the stretch we were not the same team for a while,'' Turgeon said. ''We did hit a valley four weeks ago.''
But he believes they have turned the page.
''Hopefully it all comes together for us,'' Turgeon said. ''I do think we are playing better.''
''We're fresh, we're healthy and I do think we are excited,'' Turgeon said. ''We are really locked in right now.''
For South Dakota State, freshman Mike Daum leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Guards George Marshall and Deondre Parks follow with a 14-point average each.
Daum said the Jackrabbits will not be intimidated by playing in the tournament or playing Maryland.
''The court stays the same size,'' Daum said. ''The venues get bigger.''
Marshall, a transfer from Wisconsin, said the Maryland back court of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon poses a huge challenge.
''They can do a little bit of everything,'' Marshall said. ''They can shoot it from the outside. They can also drive, get in the paint and make plays for themselves.''
Sulaimon, a graduate transfer from Duke, is using his past NCAA experience to teach younger players.
''We can't overlook an opponent,'' Sulaimon said. ''They call it March Madness for a reason. We are totally focused on South Dakota State.''
Other things to watch when South Dakota State faces Maryland:
TWELFTH SEEDS: History has been pretty good to No. 12 seeds against fifth-seeds in the NCAA Tournament. Since 1985, No. 5 seeds have an 80-44 record against No. 12 seeds. Last year was the first since 2007 without a No. 12 winner.
SEEING DOUBLE: All five Maryland starters score in double figures, averaging between 14.4 and 11.1 points per game. All were named to the All-Big Ten Conference lists.
JACKRABBITS RULE: Among power conference foes, South Dakota State posted wins over TCU and Minnesota this season, but lost to Texas Tech.
TERRAPINS RULE: This is the fifth time Maryland has won 24 regular-season games, including the past two seasons in a row.
NEUTRAL SITES: Maryland is 5-1 in neutral site games this season, losing only to Michigan State.
MARYLAND DEFENSE: Maryland allowed 66.9 points per game this season and led the Big Ten with 110 blocked shots.