Seniors looking to go out with win

Randy Reed's final college basketball season has gone by quickly.

"It feels like just a week ago I was thinking about, 'Oh, man, we finally get to play in the new arena,' " the senior forward said. "And now, I've got my last game there with a couple of other guys. It's just surreal."

Reed and UNO's other seniors — Jake White, Devin Patterson, Kyler Erickson and Tim Smallwood — wrap up the regular season Thursday against Oral Roberts in what is likely their final game at Baxter Arena.

The difference, however, between this season and their previous ones in Omaha is that the Mavericks know they will play on afterward. UNO is now eligible for the Summit League tournament.

The Mavs (17-12) may be seeded anywhere from third to fifth when the tournament begins in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. No matter where they end up in the bracket, they will play on March 6.

"Matchups are probably more important than seeds," UNO coach Derrin Hansen said. "But you're talking to a program and talking to a guy who hasn't played in a conference tournament in five years. We're excited like hell to go play anybody. We'll take who they give us, and we'll be excited about it."

One of the potential foes is the team coming to town Thursday. Oral Roberts (1414), led by conference scoring leader Obi Emegano, sits sixth in the standings with two games remaining on its league slate. The Mavs won the first meeting between the teams 75-69 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, late last month.

UNO comes into its finale off back-to-back losses to IUPUI and league-leading IPFW. The defeats bumped the Mavs out of the conference's regular-season title chase, but didn't knock them off course.

"We played really well Saturday night," Hansen said. "It was a great game. We can still build on that."

Reed had, statistically, his best game as a Mav against the Mastodons. He came off the bench to score 19 points on 9 of 11 shooting while grabbing five rebounds in 25 minutes.

"For me, personally, I think it was a pretty good night," the 6-foot-6 Reed said. "A couple of guys got in foul trouble, so I had to step up. As a team, it was kind of a tough loss. We know that we can beat them. But we want to put that final 'W' in the actual column. I wish we would've got the win, for sure."

It's water under the bridge now, Reed said. UNO is focused on a big finish Thursday.

"Of course, we want to send the seniors off right and everything. But the main focus is trying to get our seeding right," he said. "We prefer to play certain people in the conference. But, at the end of the day, we don't care who we play. We'd like to have the highest seed as possible."

Hansen said his team will go all out against Oral Roberts, then watch the scores roll in Saturday.

As for his seniors, the coach expressed his admiration for their efforts in UNO's new Division I era.

"They've seen a lot, from playing at Ralston (Arena) and now in the new place," Hansen said. "And to the strides we've made, those guys have been a big part of that and a big part of what we can and hope to be still yet this year.

"We're very appreciative of all of their efforts. They've not only been good players, but they've been good students and good ambassadors for our program."

Contact the writer: 402-444-1027, tony.boone@owh.com, twitter.com/BooneOWH

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