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Paul Miller scores 30 as NDSU beats UND

Entering a timeout early in the second half, after North Dakota State guard Paul Miller scored on another drive to the basket, UND coach Brian Jones took a few steps onto the court and yelled out at nobody in particular.

UND's Billy Brown is fouled by NDSU's Spencer Eliason in the second half.photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
UND's Billy Brown is fouled by NDSU's Spencer Eliason in the second half.photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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Entering a timeout early in the second half, after North Dakota State guard Paul Miller scored on another drive to the basket, UND coach Brian Jones took a few steps onto the court and yelled out at nobody in particular.

"Can someone guard him?" Jones pleaded.

They couldn't.

Miller scored 30 points on 12-for-16 shooting to lead NDSU to a 88-79 non-conference win over UND on Saturday night in front of 3,057 at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

The teams, which both moved to 4-5 on the season, traded road wins a year ago, but the Bison have now won three straight in Grand Forks.

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The Bison scored the game's first 11 points and never trailed.

"We were just juiced and ready to go," said Miller, who was 3-for-4 from the 3-point line. "It's a big rivalry game, and we've been excited all week. We wanted to throw the first punch and we did a good job of that."

UND weathered the initial punch from the Bison and used a 16-2 run in the first half to pull back within one at 34-33.

But Miller, a senior from Waukesha, Wis., provided the answer with a 3-pointer to squash the run and push the lead back to four. The Bison led 44-37 at halftime.

UND kept the score within one possession on multiple occasions in the second half but could never take the lead.

The backbreaker came with a little less than a minute to go when A.J. Jacobson hit a 3-pointer nearing the end of the shot clock for an 85-76 lead.

The Bison shot 13-for-22 for 59.1 percent from the 3-point line.

"We got out of the gates slow, but we did a good job clawing back," UND coach Brian Jones said. "But we've got to learn to finish and be disciplined for 40 minutes. They swung hard first, and we were playing catch-up the whole time. Our veterans have to be better down the stretch."

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UND was led by Marlon Stewart (23 points) and Geno Crandall (20) as the Fighting Hawks guards were able to draw fouls in the paint.

UND was 29-for-34 from the foul line and hit its first 19 foul shots.

The Fighting Hawks were also hampered by the absence of starter Cortez Seales, who likely would have drawn the defensive assignment on Miller. Seales missed the game to attend a funeral.

"He's one of our best 1-on-1 defenders," Jones said. "But this was an opportunity for our bench to grow and they did, so there's a positive in there. Hopefully, that's a good sign."

The teams will play again in Fargo on Jan. 16.

"We were clawing and fighting and showed spurts of what we can do, but we didn't do it enough," said UND's Conner Avants, who finished with 11 points. "This is one of the best games all year, and we wanted to get this for our fans and for us. We take this one personal. We have to get them down in Fargo."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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