DENVER, Colo. -- The Jackrabbit men's basketball team shook off a rocky start Wednesday to win its third-straight, topping Denver at Magness Arena, 80-68.
South Dakota State (12-7, 3-1 Summit League) trailed by as many as 11 in the game, but locked down defensively in the second half and limited Denver to a .188 field goal percentage in the final period. Overall, the Jackrabbits outscored the Pioneers by 24 over the final 20 minutes to pull off the comeback victory.
Five Jackrabbits scored double figures for the second time in two games, led by Douglas Wilson, who racked up a career-best 31 points to go with eight rebounds.
Matt Dentlinger added 12 points and six rebounds, while Baylor Scheierman (seven rebounds, three assists) and Noah Freidel each had 11 points. Alex Arians finished with 10 points and six boards.
SDSU made just two 3-pointers, but shot 50 percent from the field overall and went 22-of-27 at the charity stripe. Additionally, the Jacks were plus-five on the boards and had 50 points in the paint.
"A really tough start for us," head coach Eric Henderson said. "We didn't play very hard and weren't very connected defensively that first half. Credit to our guys, though, because we played with a lot more urgency in the second. We're not perfect, but we have a fun group that is starting to understand that when they play together with good energy, positive things will happen."
The Pioneers started fast, building a 16-7 lead before the under-12 timeout by hitting six of their first seven from the field. An pair of early 3s helped SDSU stay within striking distance, but Denver's lead reached double figures (25-15) on a Taeylr Gatlin 3-pointer at 9:13. State worked its way back to within five (36-31) out of the under-four media break, then went into the half trailing 46-37 as the Pioneers shot 60 percent in the opening frame.
A Freidel 3-pointer pulled the Jacks back within five near the 13-minute mark of the second, draining the second bucket of a 16-2 Jackrabbit rally that saw State take its first lead of the night (55-54) after Wilson hit a layup at 7:30. South Dakota State continued to pull away, stretching its advantage to a game-high 12 inside the final minute thanks to a strong showing at the line.
• South Dakota State is 17-6 all-time against Denver with seven consecutive wins in the series.
• Douglas Wilson posted his 17th double-figure and second 30-plus scoring performance of the year.
• The double-digit comeback was the first for SDSU this season.
• Five Jackrabbits have scored in double figures three times: CSU Bakersfield, Oral Roberts and Denver.
• SDSU won the rebounding battle for the 12th time.
• Alex Arians has scored 10 or more in seven of the last eight games.
South Dakota State travels to Fort Wayne, Indiana Saturday for contest with the Mastodons. The Jackrabbits and Purdue Fort Wayne tip at 7 p.m. EST / 6 p.m. CST.