Another nonconference home game against a team that one of the state's established Division I programs had thumped, another night when UNO did pretty much the same thing.
As with its 30-point win over UMKC last week, which came two nights after the Kangaroos lost to Creighton by 26, UNO rolled past South Carolina State by a larger margin (32 points) than Nebraska had (26) two days earlier.
Tuesday's 91-59 victory before 873 at Ralston Arena was over within minutes, as the Mavericks' uptempo pace and share-the-ball offense, highlighted by the everywhere-at-once work of point guard Devin Patterson, was more than the Bulldogs could handle.
“UNO is a great basketball team — hands down they're solid,” said South Carolina State coach Murray Garvin, when asked to compare UNO and Nebraska. “At the end of the year, I look for them to possibly play in the postseason. I just don't imagine too many basketball teams in their league as solid as they are all-around.”
Reserves played most of the minutes for UNO, with sophomore Marcus Tyus (24 points) and redshirt freshman Jalen Bradley (15 points, on 6 for 6 shooting) setting career highs. Among the starters, Patterson — a sophomore transfer — had 12 points, eight assists, four steals, four rebounds and zero turnovers.
“He's probably the best point guard we've played against all year,” said Garvin, whose team has also faced Michigan and Marshall as well as Nebraska. “He scared us to death on film.”
The Mavs (3-2) did it despite preseason All-Summit League selection Justin Simmons playing only 62 seconds because of an injury.
Simmons had a scary fall while blocking a shot 31 seconds into the game — he was tipped sideways on the shoulder of 6-foot-8 teammate Mike Rostampour and couldn't brace his fall while landing on his back. Simmons limped off the court under his own power and tried to return a short time later, but was in serious pain and came back out after another 31-second stretch.
UNO coach Darrin Hansen said Simmons had back spasms as a result of the fall and would be examined again Wednesday.
The Mavs jumped to a 21-6 lead on a Tyus 3 and never looked back, building the lead to 36-15 on a pair of Matt Hagerbaumer free throws.
“That's our biggest focus for every game — how we start,” said Tyus, the first reserve in after Simmons' injury.
UNO rolled up a 28-2 advantage in fast-break points and had just six turnovers, including one in the first half, while forcing 21.
“I thought we defended things well early and got into transition, and that really helped us,” Hansen said. “I told our guys if they wanted to run a little bit they would have to keep it out of the net — and we did a good job of that.”
South Carolina State (1-4) went to a zone with about four minutes left in the first half and seemed to slow the Mavs briefly, but five late points from Bradley gave the Mavs a 46-25 lead.
For comparison, Nebraska led South Carolina State at halftime Sunday 39-31. But, like last week, the Mavs weren't too interested in comparing their scores against common opponents with those of another team's — in this case, Nebraska's.
“I'm just happy with the way we shared the basketball, happy with the way we defended their stuff, and happy that we got out and ran a little bit,” Hansen said. “When we do those things, we're more than capable.”
Leading 58-32, Rostampour was ejected with just under 16 minutes to go. After a hard foul committed by the Bulldogs, Rostampour and Patrick Kirskey were hit with double technical fouls while exchanging words. The jawing continued, and Rostampour pointed at the scoreboard as each was hit with a second T and the automatic ejection.
“Can't do that,” Hansen said. “Don't get me wrong, we love the energy Mike brings us — it's something we need, but it's something you have to harness. ... He knows that he hurt the basketball team. That's something we can't have and won't tolerate.”
UNO eventually stretched its lead to 36 points. After a game Saturday at Drake, the Mavs travel to Orangeburg, S.C., for a rematch with the Bulldogs on Monday.
“We're going to their house,” Tyus said. “I'm sure they're going to play tough and try to do the same thing we did to them. But we're just going to come out and compete and try to come out on top. ... It's going to be a tough one.”
NOTES: Tim Carter, who spent the previous six seasons as South Carolina State's head coach and coached UNO for the 1994-95 season, was in attendance.