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MEN'S BASKETBALL: Looking for an inside punch

Quinton Hooker is the only UND player who averages double figures. The UND junior guard averages 17.6 points per game. Three more guards follow Hooker in scoring--Geno Crandall (9.3 ppg), Cortez Seales (8.9) and Corey Baldwin (8.8).

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Quinton Hooker is the only UND player who averages double figures. The UND junior guard averages 17.6 points per game. Three more guards follow Hooker in scoring-Geno Crandall (9.3 ppg), Cortez Seales (8.9) and Corey Baldwin (8.8).

UND with a 5-5 record still is in search of consistent inside scoring this season.

A better inside scoring punch will be needed tonight when UND plays at Kansas State, a Big 12 program that is 8-2-its lone setbacks coming against No. 7 North Carolina and No. 21 Texas A&M.

UND showed signs of more inside scoring last week in its 80-59 win against Valley City State.

But K-State isn't Valley City State and two of the Wildcats' top three scorers play inside-6-foot-7 Wesley Iwundu (13.5 ppg) and 6-8 Dean Wade (11.5).

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"We'll have to keep our turnovers low and play good defense," said UND forward Drick Bernstine, who had his season breakout game against Valley City (20 points, 10 rebounds). "Our scoring will take care of itself. That's something we don't struggle with."

Hooker, meanwhile, said UND's inside game is progressing. UND's inside play last week could be a sign of things to come.

"That game (against Valley City) hopefully can give our inside players a little boost they need to go in there and play their game," said Hooker.

UND and K-State will meet for the second time. The Wildcats beat UND 85-52 in 2012, which also was Bruce Weber's first game as the K-State coach.

UND will be playing a Big 12 school for the seventh time. The Fighting Hawks are 0-6 against the Big 12, losing to Kansas State, Texas A&M (twice), Kansas, Iowa State and Nebraska.

A win would serve as a huge springboard for UND as the Hawks open Big Sky Conference play next week.

Also, a win would have additional meaning as league play approaches.

"It'll be a great challenge for us," said UND coach Brian Jones. "I'm excited for this game because we have a chance to be 6-5 going into league play. We haven't been a plus-1 in our Division I era going into league play.

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"We have a chance to get some momentum going into the Big Sky."

UND opens Big Sky play Dec. 31 at home against Idaho, a 7-5 team that already has wins over San Jose State and Washington State.

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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