South Dakota State men's basketball opened its season with a 70-57 victory Thursday night at Frost Arena, ringing in a new era of Jackrabbit basketball in successful fashion.
Three Jackrabbits reached double figures in the win, led by Douglas Wilson's 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting. Matt Dentlinger turned in a 17-point, 14-rebound effort for his first-career double-double, and Brandon Key added 15 points alongside six assists.
Alex Arians added 10 rebounds for a team that was plus-12 on the boards, converting 10 offensive rebounds into 16 second-chance points.
South Dakota State started fast, building a 19-6 lead in the opening nine minutes thanks to a burst of nine unanswered (and a 17-4 run overall) that started with a Brandon Key layup at 17:10.
"I'm really, really proud of our guys for sticking with the plan," head coach Eric Henderson said. "We knew it was going to be important for us to take care of the basketball and rebound, and I thought in both of those categories we did a really good job. It was certainly good to be back in front of our loyal fans at Frost Arena. It's basketball season and we're sure excited to get started."
A stout defensive effort helped the Jackrabbits withstand a nearly four-minute field goal drought that began shortly after the media-break, and with 6:46 on the clock a Dentlinger 3-pointer sent SDSU on another 9-0 scoring burst.
Up 32-15 at that point, the Jackrabbits saw UTRGV string together a rally of its own the rest of the half, but still led at the break, 35-32.
South Dakota State gave UTRGV a steady dose of Wilson early in the second half. The Kirkwood Community College transfer put up a trio of highlight-reel dunks (with two alley-oops from Key) and scored 13 points in the first seven minutes of the half, and the Jacks built their lead back to double figures (50-40).
The teams traded punches the rest of the way, but SDSU's advantage held up as Henderson and the Jackrabbits claimed the win in his head coaching debut.
• South Dakota State is 75-39 all-time in season openers and 8-8 at the Division I level.
• Four Jackrabbits made their South Dakota State debut Tuesday: Douglas Wilson, Noah Freidel, Baylor Scheierman and David Wingett
• Dentlinger set a new career high in points (17) and posted his first-career double-double.
• The Jackrabbits dished 14 assists as a team and held UTRGV to four assists.
South Dakota State wraps up a two-game homestand Thursday against Peru State. Game time from Frost Arena is set for 7 p.m.