Sophomore Zach Jackson and the Omaha men's basketball team host Fort Wayne Wednesday night at Baxter Arena.
Courtesy: Omaha Athletics

Omaha, Fort Wayne Set for Wednesday Showdown

Omaha Athletics | January 03, 2017

This Week
The Omaha men’s basketball team hosts its first Summit League home game this Wednesday, Jan. 4, welcoming Fort Wayne. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Baxter Arena, and Gary Sharp and John Karhoff will have the radio call on 1180 Zone 2. Fans can stream audio on their smartphones by downloading NRG Media’s app “1620 The Zone," and links to live video, audio and stats will be available on OMavs.com.

Quick Hits
•Four of Omaha's starters average double-figure scoring: junior forward Tre'Shawn Thurman (13.5 ppg), senior guard Marcus Tyus (13.2 ppg), sophomore guard Zach Jackson (12.9 ppg) and senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins (11.1 ppg).
•Tyus enters Wednesday's game with 985 career points to his credit, needing just 15 to become the 37th player in program history to reach the 1,000 points milestone.
•Omaha went 7-6 in non-conference play, marking its fourth straight season finishing .500 or better against non-conference opponents.
•From Dec. 10-18, Omaha rattled off three straight wins, rallying from halftime deficits vs. Montana State, at UMKC and vs. Cal State Fullerton.
•Sophomore center Zach Pirog made his first career start Dec. 18 vs. Cal State Fullerton, while redshirt freshman guard JT Gibson followed with his first career start Dec. 21 at Pitt.
•Head coach Derrin Hansen has used three different lineups throughout the first 15 games this year.
•Over their careers, Thurman and Hollins have both averaged at least 12 points per game, notching at 12.2 ppg and 12.0 ppg, respectively.
•Omaha capped the 2015-16 season at 18-14 overall and 10-6 in the Summit League, finishing third in the conference standings. The Mavericks were picked fourth in the league’s 2016-17 preseason poll.
•Hollins and Thurman were both named Preseason All-Summit, with Hollins on the first team and Thurman on the second team.
•Hollins was the nation’s leader in both steals (127) and steals per game (3.9) as a junior.
•Tyus has returned to the lineup after redshirting in 2015-16. Previously, Tyus had not played in a game since Feb. 7, 2015 at Denver, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury.
•UNO lost five letterwinners from 2015-16, including second-team All-Summit performers in guard Devin Patterson and forward Jake White.
•Omaha was a perfect 10-0 when shooting 50 percent or better last year. This year, the Mavericks are 2-1.
•Eight different Mavericks have scored in double figures over the first 15 games this year.
•Thurman registered his team-leading fourth double-double of the year Dec. 18 vs. Cal State Fullerton. In games with a Thurman double-double over the last three seasons, Omaha is 6-4.

Scouting the Fort Wayne Mastodons
Fort Wayne enters the week with a record of 11-4 (1-1 Summit League) after a 102-91 win over Oral Roberts on Dec. 31, powered by a Summit League record-tying 20 3-pointers. Bryson Scott scored a team-leading 21 points with five triples, and Mo Evans added 18 more points with four more treys. John Konchar also tallied a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Evans (18.4 ppg), Scott (16.9 ppg), Konchar (14.5 ppg) and Kason Harrell (11.1 ppg) all average double-figure scoring, and Konchar also has a team-best 8.4 rebounds per game. The Mastodons were the favorite in the Summit League's preseason poll after finishing as last year's regular-season co-champion.

Head coach Jon Coffman is in his third season at Fort Wayne and carries a career record of 51-30.

Wednesday's game marks the 11th meeting all-time between Omaha and Fort Wayne, with the Mastodons leading the series 8-2. The two teams most recently met on Feb. 20, 2016 in Fort Wayne, Ind., with Fort Wayne earning a 94-90 win. It also won the last meeting at Baxter Arena, 106-101 in overtime, on Jan. 16, 2016.

Last Time Out: Mavericks Dealt 82-70 Road Loss at NDSU
Omaha closed its first weekend of conference play Saturday afternoon, falling 82-70 to North Dakota State at the Scheels Center. Senior guard Marcus Tyus paced the Mavericks with 18 points, hitting 4-of-8 from 3-point range. Sophomore guard Zach Jackson added 13 points with four more triples, as well as six rebounds and an assist.

Senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins and sophomore forward Mitch Hahn matched each other with 12 points. Hahn pulled down six boards and had two assists and a block, while Hollins contributed four rebounds, five assists and five steals. Junior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman finished with a team-leading nine caroms alongside eight points, two assists and a steal.

The Mavericks shot .377 (23-of-61) from the field, .423 (11-of-26) from long range and .650 (13-of-20) at the free throw line. The Bison finished at a .436 clip (24-of-55) from the floor, .400 (8-of-20) from distance and .929 (26-of-28) at the stripe. Omaha had the edge in rebounding, 37-36.

Second-Half Success
Omaha has averaged 42.9 second-half points this season, up from 36.6 first-half points per game. The Mavericks have seen second-half success from 3-point range, shooting .424 (72-of-170) in the second stanza compared to .277 (49-of-177) in the first.

Senior guard Marcus Tyus has been particularly effective in the second half, shooting .493 (35-of-71) from the field compared to .351 (27-of-77) in the first. Tyus is bolstered by .500 (14-of-28) 3-point shooting in his second-half performances, an improvement from .300 (12-of-40) in the opening half.

Tyus on Track
Though he entered the 2016-17 season having not played a game since Feb. 7, 2015, senior guard Marcus Tyus is the next Omaha player on track to join the prestigious 1,000-Point Club. Over four active seasons (2012-13, 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2016-17), he has amassed 985 career points, spurred most recently by an 18-point performance Dec. 31 at North Dakota State. If he reaches 1,000, Tyus will be the 37th UNO player to achieve the feat.

Omaha’s active career leader for 3-pointers, Tyus moved up to 14th on the Mavericks’ career triples chart Dec. 31 at North Dakota State. His career total of 118 passed Devin Patterson (2013-16), who had 116.

Solid at the Stripe
Omaha has been strong at the free throw line this season, hitting at a .738 clip. The Mavericks have shot over .700 10 times and earlier this year fired at over .900 in back-to-back games -- .923 (24-of-26) Nov. 26 at Eastern Michigan and .926 (25-of-27) Dec. 30 at Cal State Fullerton.

The last time a Maverick team shot .900 or better at the stripe in back-to-back games was 2007-08 vs. York College (.926 on Jan. 12, 2008) and Nebraska-Kearney (.900 on Jan. 14, 2008).

Tracking Tre’Shawn
After 30 blocked shots to his credit as a freshman and 35 more as a sophomore, junior forward Tre’Shawn Thurman made his way into the top 10 in school history with 65 career blocks. Midway into the 2016-17 campaign, the Omaha Central product now sits at seventh on the list with 78, and his next hurdle is Matt Hagerbaumer (2010-14), who had 79 for sixth.

Thurman’s 35 blocks in 2015-16 were the 10th-highest single-season mark in school history, and the total ranked him third in the Summit League. His 21 blocks in league play were also the second-most of any league player last year.

Thurman most recently inked his name in the Omaha record books for career rebounds, joining the top 20 in school history on Dec. 21 at Pitt. He currently sits at 19th on the list with 495 boards, having passed John Eriksen (1975-80), who had 488.

Action Jackson
Sophomore guard Zach Jackson is second on the team for rebounding with 5.3 boards per game and third for scoring with 12.9 points per game this season. In Omaha’s season opener Nov. 12 at UCSB, he scored 14 points and pulled down a career-best and eight rebounds and has matched the rebounding performance twice more -- Nov. 15 at Kansas State and Dec. 3 at Iowa. Jackson also put up a career-high 21 points against the Hawkeyes, and he has scored in double figures in all but two games this season.

Jackson started 24 games in his freshman campaign in 2015-16, averaging 3.5 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. A native of Wichita, Kan., he was the first Omaha freshman to start a season opener since CJ Carter in 2011. Jackson also had the distinction of making the first basket in Baxter Arena history, nailing a jumper 52 seconds into last year’s season opener vs. UC Santa Barbara.

Feelin’ Hahn, Hahn, Hahn
Sophomore forward Mitch Hahn is averaging 9.6 points per game, the most of any Maverick coming off the bench.

The Fremont, Neb., native had an impressive debut Nov. 12 at UC Santa Barbara, leading all scorers with 15 points in reserve with five 3-pointers. Hahn was the first Maverick to knock down at least five triples in a season opener since former Maverick Jeff Martin did so in 2009-10.

Hahn scored a season-high 18 points Dec. 18 vs. Cal State Fullerton, helped by his 10-of-10 showing at the free throw line. He is also third on the team for threes made this season with 20.

Compared to the Opposition
Over the first 15 contests of the 2016-17 season, Omaha has:
•More or equal field goals made compared to its opponent five times
•More or equal 3-point field goals made compared to its opponent six times
•More or equal free throws made compared to its opponent 10 times
•More rebounds compared to its opponent six times
•More or equal assists compared to its opponent five times
•More or equal steals compared to its opponent six times
•Fewer or equal turnovers compared to its opponent seven times
•More or equal blocks compared to its opponent six times

Stacking Up Nationally
As a team, Omaha ranks 12th nationally for free throws made (281), 20th for free throw attempts (381) and 50th for scoring offense (80.7).

Individually, senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins is second among Division I players for total steals (47), fifth for steals per game (3.1), eighth for total assists (95) and 13th for assists per game (6.3).

League Leaders
As a team, Omaha is the Summit League’s leader in free throws made per game (18.7) and free throws attempted per game (25.4). Individually, senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins leads the way in steals (47) and assists (95) for the second straight season.

History-Making Hollins
Senior guard Tra-Deon Hollins is Omaha’s all-time single-season steals leader, and he joined the top 20 for career steals on Feb. 6, 2016. Hollins moved up to fifth in school history Dec. 31 at North Dakota State, tying Dean Thompson (1984-88), and now has a career total of 174 swipes. Hollins needs one more steal to pass Devin Patterson (2013-16), who had 175.

Hollins’ 196 assists last season were also the second-highest single-season mark in school history. He broke into the all-time top 20 for assists Nov. 19 vs. Rice and is now 11th after Omaha's Dec. 31 game at NDSU. His 291 helpers passed Seth Nelson (1999-2003), and he now needs eight more to break into the top 10 on the list, which would tie Richard Jones (1993-96), who had 299.

Hollins had one of his finest performances of the 2015-16 season vs. Fort Wayne on Jan. 16, 2016, finishing with 23 points, a season-high 13 assists and a season-best eight steals alongside five rebounds. He claimed Omaha’s single-season steals record (then 81) in the game, clearing the previous mark of 80 set by Vernon Manning (1981-82). Hollins was also the first Omaha player in six years to record a double-double off points and assists.

2016-17 Slate = Tough Test for Mavericks
Omaha’s 2016-17 schedule includes 29 games, and the team will play in 13 states against schools from nine other Division I conferences. The schedule has two opponents from both the Big 12 and Big West and one each from the Pac-12, Big Ten, ACC, Conference USA, MAC, Big Sky and WAC. Five opponents – USC, Iowa, Iowa State, Pitt and defending Summit League champion South Dakota State – played in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

The 2016-17 season also features four opponents the Mavericks have never faced: USC, Rice, Cal State Fullerton and Pitt. They now hold a combined all-time record of 139-178 over all teams on the regular-season slate.

Next Up
Omaha visits South Dakota State on Saturday, Jan. 7. Tipoff is set for 4:30 p.m. at Frost Arena in Brookings, S.D., and the game will be broadcast live on Midco and ESPN3. Gary Sharp will also have the radio call on 1290 KOIL, and links to live stats, audio and video will be available on OMavs.com.

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