A highly-anticipated season opener lived up to its billing Tuesday night at Frost Arena, as South Dakota State pulled off a 79-74 victory over Grand Canyon in a high-energy, physical contest in front of 1,933 fans.
David Jenkins led all scorers with 31 points, matching his career-high in the scoring column with four 3-pointers, including two in the final 90 seconds to seal the Jackrabbit victory.
Mike Daum posted a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double and dished four assists, while Matt Dentlinger logged 36 minutes in his collegiate debut and finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
Tevin King dominated the glass to the tune of a career-high 12 rebounds, playing a key role in SDSU's plus-13 advantage (48-35) on the glass.
"I'm really excited for our guys," head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. "That's a great team. (They're) a well-coached team, a team with a lot of toughness, a team with a lot of good players, and they're going to win a lot of games this year. It felt like that was a big-time, high-level college game.
"I'm just proud of our guys and how they came out and finished that game as a group. Certainly there was a point there where it wasn't going quite as well as we would have liked down the stretch, but they rallied when we needed to. We had some big rebounds, made some free throws down the stretch and obviously you can't say enough about the gutty shots David Jenkins made to ensure victory late."
Down 5-4 early, State scored six straight to take a 10-5 lead near the under-16 media, but GCU responded with nine consecutive to force a Jackrabbit timeout at 13:29. Daum hit a 3-pointer out of the break to stop the run and pull SDSU within one (14-13), but the Lopes kept the momentum and built their lead to six moments later.
The Jackrabbits crawled back to within one possession (25-24) over the next five minutes, and at 5:32 Jenkins took over with a 9-3 run of his own, burying a pair of 3-pointers, a contested layup, and a free throw out of the under-four media to make it 33-28 in SDSU's favor.
The frenetic pace continued the rest of the half, as Grand Canyon rallied to tie it at 36-all, but a Daum second-chance layup with time winding down sent SDSU to a 38-36 halftime lead.
South Dakota State and Grand Canyon traded buckets out of the break, but a burst of nine unanswered Jackrabbit points near the 17-minute mark provided separation for the home team that would come in handy down the stretch.
The Jacks built their lead to 10 (60-50) over the next five minutes, and led by as many as 13 with 5:15 to play, but a pesky Grand Canyon team did not wilt, closing the gap to four (69-65) over the next two minutes of action.
Jenkins' clutch 3-pointers at 1:25 and :39 allowed State to catch its breath down the stretch, but GCU kept charging and made it a 75-70 contest with 30 seconds left. That's as close as the Lopes would come, however, as Jenkins scored the final 10 points for the Jacks push their home winning streak to a nation-leading 21 games.
The Jackrabbits shot 48.3 percent as a team, burying seven 3-pointers in the contest.
SDSU won the battle in the paint, 38-24, and were helped to victory by an 18-8 advantage in second-chance points, thanks in part to 14 offensive boards (with six from Daum).
• South Dakota State is 74-39 in season openers and 13-2 dating back to 2004-05 (the first year of Division I transition). In home openers the Jacks are 92-18 all-time.
• Mike Daum is now 111 shy of Nate Wolters' school record 2,363 career points. He is now 186th on the NCAA's scoring chart with 2,263 career points.
• The Jackrabbits are eighth currently with 29 consecutive nonconference home wins.
• Matt Dentlinger became the second Jackrabbit in as many years to reach double figures in his collegiate debut after David Jenkins did it last year against UC Irvine.
• Jenkins has reached double figures in 29 of 36 career games. He has led the team in scoring nine times.
• Mike Daum recorded career double-double No. 33.
• Dentlinger, Alou Dillon, Owen King and Alex Arians made their collegiate debuts.
South Dakota State continues its season-opening homestand Thursday against Alabama State. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. from Frost Arena.