Fort Hays State (2-0) at
MSU Denver (3-0)
Sunday, November 19 - 1 p.m. CST / 12 p.m. MST
Denver, Colo. - Auraria Event Center
Fort Hays State Men's Basketball travels to MSU Denver on Sunday for its first true road contest of the 2023-24 season. The Tigers, recently tabbed No. 16 in the D2CSC Top 25 Poll, enter the contest at 2-0, while the Roadrunners are 3-0 on the season. Game time is set for 1 p.m. CT / 12 p.m. MT.
The Tigers picked up wins over Southwestern Oklahoma State and Arkansas Tech in their first weekend of action, played in Emporia, Kan. The Tigers averaged 68 points over the two contests, while holding the opposition to an average of 59. The Tigers have had one of the top scoring defenses nationally the past two seasons and rank 12th in that category so far this season.
The Tigers are in the Top 25 of the D2CSC (formerly D2SIDA) Top 25 Poll for the first time since the 2021-22 season. The No. 16 ranking they currently hold is their highest ever in the D2CSC Poll, which began in 2014-15. However, the Tigers have been the top ranked team in the country numerous times in the NABC Top 25 Poll during their NCAA Division II history. The new ranking will be put to the test against a solid MSU Denver squad, that is coming off a one-point road win over No. 7/4 ranked West Texas A&M on Thursday night.
The last time FHSU and MSU Denver met in Denver at the Auraria Event Center was in 2005-06, the last year of Fort Hays State's membership with the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference before moving to the MIAA. The Tigers won that last meeting in Denver by a score of 67-59, which was part of a season when FHSU won the RMAC regular season title and reached No. 1 in the nation in the NABC Top 25 Poll. MSU Denver holds a slight 14-12 edge in the all-time series, but FHSU has won four of the last five meetings.
Last year, Fort Hays State squeaked out a 68-66 victory over MSU Denver in Hays. Kaleb Hammeke hit a pair of free throws with five seconds remaining to put the Tigers up three, and then the Roadrunners made one of two free throws on the other end and had a couple of put back chances miss before time expired as the Tigers held on for victory.
Hammeke is leading the Tigers in scoring so far this season at 18 points per game. He had 12 in the season opener against Southwestern Oklahoma State and then doubled that in the win over Arkansas Tech with 24. R.J. Crawford (12.5), Elijah Nnanabu (12.0), and Shaun Riley (10.0) are all averaging double figures in scoring as well. Riley leads the team in rebounding at 6.0 per game, and produced a double-double in the season opener against Southwestern Oklahoma State with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Hammeke is the team leader in assists so far at 2.0 per game.