With three games separating first through eighth place with five weeks to play in the regular season, the race is wide open in MIAA men’s basketball.
No. 18 Central Missouri (15-3, 8-3 MIAA) can take sole possession of first place if the Mules can defend their home court Wednesday (Jan. 28) when Missouri Southern (16-5, 6-5 MIAA) visits.
With No. 9 Southwest Baptist (15-3, 8-3 MIAA) idle until Saturday (Jan. 31) at Southern, the Mules can get a half-game edge on the Bearcats with a win over the Lions. Central Missouri has won its last three games.
UNO has just one game this week, as the Mavericks host Fort Hays State (12-5, 5-5 MIAA) Wednesday. In the first meeting at Hays Dec. 5, Nebraska-Omaha claimed an 80-77 win to hand the Tigers their first loss of the season. FHSU was down 18 at one point in the second half.
FIRST REGIONAL RANKING OUT WEDNESDAY: The first NCAA Division II South Central Region ranking is scheduled to be released Wednesday afternoon (Jan. 28).
The South Central Region consists of the MIAA, Lone Star Conference and Heartland Conference. Each conference has an automatic berth to the regional tournament — the other five teams to advance to the eight-team bracket will be determined by their regional ranking.
Nebraska-Omaha: Senior G Michael Jenkins passed Seth Nelson (1999-2003 — 1,363) for fifth on UNO’s career scoring list — he needs nine points to get fourth place from Mike Simons (1996-2000 — 1,387)… Junior G Tyler Albers scored a season-high 20 points and matched his career-high with five assists in the win over Washburn.
MIAA Men’s Basketball Athlete of the Week
Guard Mitch Albers, a 6-foot-4, 175-pound sophomore from Papillion, Neb., averaged 29.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists as the Mavericks split a pair of conference games last week.
He scored a career-high 28 points in UNO’s 88-86 overtime loss at Pittsburg State Wednesday (Jan. 21). He was 8-of-14 from the field — including 3-of-4 from three-point range — and 9-of-11 at the foul line. Albers scored 17 of his points after halftime.
During a 93-88 home win over Washburn Saturday night (Jan. 24), Albers improved his career scoring high by netting 30 points as he took up the slack after senior G Michael Jenkins left the game early with an injury.
Before fouling out late in the game, Albers was 13-of-21 from the field, and 3-of-7 beyond the arc.
Albers is a graduate of Papillion-LaVista High School.