The first-place Mavericks look to remain undefeated in the Summit League when they play Saturday at South Dakota, and they’ll have a confident reserve ready to help.
Marlon Ruffin has put together two of his best games this year during the past week. The 6-foot-5 sophomore had 15 points off the bench in UNO’s win over Oral Roberts last Saturday. He followed that with a 10-point, seven-rebound game at North Dakota on Wednesday.
It could be a sign that the junior college transfer from Highland Community College is settling in. Coach Derrin Hansen said newcomers often seem to find their footing around this time of year.
“I think he’s right in that category right now,” Hansen said.
Ruffin said he’s just focused on feeding off the tone-setters within this veteran-led squad. The Mavs are the lone remaining unbeaten team in Summit League action largely because of consistent contributions from their upperclassmen.
Senior guards JT Gibson and KJ Robinson have combined to average 30.3 points during three league outings. Junior Matt Pile ranks third in the conference in rebounding (9.3 per game) and is tied for first in blocks (2.3).
But players like Ruffin are picking their spots to make an impact, as well.
“I’ve been trying to find my niche all season, where I fit in,” Ruffin said. “Coach just tells me to go in and play hard. My teammates, they keep positive thoughts in me. When I come in there, I just try to bring an extra spark.”
He’ll look to contribute again Saturday when the Mavs, who have won four in a row, play at South Dakota at 3:30 p.m.