TUCSON, Ariz. — South Dakota State men’s basketball went toe-to-toe with No. 14 Arizona Thursday night at the McKale Center, but ultimately fell 71-64 to the Wildcats.
The Jackrabbits (4-3) led for over 20 minutes of game action and shot 46.8 percent as a team, but Arizona outscored SDSU by 10 in the second half to defend home court.
“We’re not into moral victories, but we’re certainly proud of our guys’ compete level,” head coach Eric Henderson said. “We have a group of young guys and aren’t very experienced, but we’re confident and we’re ready to go to battle for each other more times than not. I was excited for tonight’s challenge but we fell a little short.”
Douglas Wilson led the offensive attack with 15 points, hitting 5-of-7 from the field with another 5-of-7 effort at the charity stripe. Brandon Key added 13 points from the point, dishing a game-high six assists over 36 minutes.
Matt Dentlinger matched Wilson with a 5-of-7 effort on field goals to finish with 11 points, while Noah Freidel had a team-high seven rebounds, just ahead of Arians’ six boards and Dentlinger’s five.
Josh Green (15 points), Nico Mannion (14 points) and Zeke Nnaji (12 points) led Arizona in scoring.
Down four early on, Freidel hit a 3-pointer at 16:58 to bring the Jackrabbit offense to life, as State took a 9-8 lead at the under-16 media then pushed its advantage to double figures (24-14) after a run of nine unanswered near the 10-minute mark.
State endured a nearly-four minute scoreless drought from there, breaking out of a brief slump with a Baylor Scheierman jumper and Wilson dunk. Leading 28-18 with 5:59 on the clock, SDSU saw Arizona cut into the deficit before halftime but took a 32-29 lead into the locker room.
The Jackrabbits were plus-five on the boards in the first half, turning five offensive rebounds into eight second-chance points.
Arizona continued to push in the second half, and though a brief rally saw SDSU grow its lead to five (39-34) early in the period, the Wildcats responded with 12 unanswered to go in front, 46-39, with 11:33 to play.
The teams settled into a back-and-forth game from there, as the Jackrabbits’ deficit fluctuated between three and seven until the final five minutes, when a stretch of six consecutive free throws gave Arizona the separation it needed to hold on for the win.
- This was the first-ever meeting between South Dakota State and Arizona.
- Douglas Wilson has scored 10 or more points in all seven games of his Jackrabbit career.
- SDSU has now played three Power Five opponents in its last four games.
South Dakota State returns to Brookings Sunday to host Mississippi Valley State. The Jackrabbits and Delta Devils tip at 2 p.m. from Frost Arena on Epilepsy Awareness Day.