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UND MEN'S BASKETBALL: Valued property

The UND men's basketball team's Jekyll and Hyde appearance is almost entirely tied to its home and road splits. UND has thrived at home with a 7-1 record. Meanwhile, North Dakota has been far different on the road, supported by an 0-8 mark. Will ...

UND sports logo

The UND men's basketball team's Jekyll and Hyde appearance is almost entirely tied to its home and road splits.

UND has thrived at home with a 7-1 record. Meanwhile, North Dakota has been far different on the road, supported by an 0-8 mark.

Will the home friendliness translate to success with tonight's game against North Dakota State being played at Ralph Engelstad Arena, instead of next door at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center?

"We had a chance to get some shots up this morning to try to get used to the environment," UND coach Brian Jones said. "The more time we have in here the better because it is different."

Historically, the REA has treated UND well as a basketball home. North Dakota is 12-6 all-time in the building, including a 2-1 mark against the Bison.

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"The backgrounds and the lighting aren't what the guys are accustomed to at home, but they're excited about the opportunity," Jones said.

Based on Sagarin ratings, which are used to help determine seeding for the NCAA tournament, North Dakota State will be the significant favorite against UND. In the ratings, NDSU is 85th, while UND is 269th.

But UND has had substantial home victories this year that point to a closer finish than those rankings would suggest.

North Dakota holds home wins over Montana (129th in Sagarin ratings) and South Dakota State (74th). The win over the Jackrabbits was by 19 points, five days removed from losing to SDSU by 38 in Brookings.

UND guard Aaron Anderson said the success at home can be attributed to the team's defensive effort.

"We're playing defense and getting out in the open court from our D," Anderson said.

Jones also said UND's defense will be vital.

"It's our energy, first and foremost from the tip," Jones said. "We've done a nice job defensively really flying around and being active. We're finishing stops and getting easy baskets in transition. The tone is set with our defensive presence."

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UND's defensive effort is often led by senior power forward Patrick Mitchell, who averages 1.6 blocks per game. Mitchell said North Dakota needs to learn from last season's game against the Bison, one in which the teams were tied at halftime before NDSU took a 26-point victory.

"We've got to play two halves," Mitchell said. "The biggest thing is putting together a full 40 minutes."

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

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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