- Associated Press - Thursday, March 17, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. — South Dakota State coach Scott Nagy has no illusions that his team will win a shootout with No. 5 seed Maryland in their NCAA tournament opener on Friday.

Nagy said the Jackrabbits will have to rely on defense and rebounding if they want a chance to win an NCAA tournament game for the first time.

The 12th-seeded Jackrabbits (26-7) will also have to shoot better than they did in the Summit League tournament, which they managed to win despite poor shooting, but Nagy doesn’t plan to play a slowdown game, figuring neither team wants that.

“I would say that physically, we don’t match up to them,” Nagy said. “They’re a much bigger team than us.”

Maryland (25-8) averages 76 points per game with balanced scoring.

The Terrapins are in no danger of looking past the Jackrabbits, Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. Both teams played in an early season tournament in Cancun, and Turgeon watched the Jackrabbits play and was impressed. Among power conference foes, South Dakota State posted wins over TCU and Minnesota, which Maryland shockingly lost to on the road last month.

“They have our attention,” Turgeon said.

The Jackrabbits played in the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 2013, losing in the first round both times. Maryland, meanwhile, has a 39-24 record in the NCAA tournament and is making its 26th appearance.

Maryland has had a rollercoaster season. The Terrapins raced to a 22-3 start and were ranked No. 2 in the second week of February. They stumbled at the end, losing four of six, and lost to Michigan State in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.

“Down the stretch, we were not the same team for a while,” Turgeon said. “We did hit a valley four weeks ago.”

He believes they have turned the page.

“Hopefully, it all comes together for us,” Turgeon said. “I do think we are playing better. I do think our guys have a lot of confidence. I do think we’re fresh. I do think we’re healthy. I do think we’re excited, and this is what we have been shooting for.”

For South Dakota State, freshman Mike Daum leads the team in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Guards George Marshall and Deondre Parks follow, with each averaging at least 14 points.

Daum said the Jackrabbits will not be intimidated by playing in the tournament or playing Maryland.

“The court stays the same size,” Daum said. “The venues get bigger.”

Marshall, a transfer from Wisconsin, said the Maryland back court of Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon poses a huge challenge.

“They can do a little bit of everything,” Marshall said. “They can shoot it from the outside. They can also drive, get in the paint and make plays for themselves.”

Sulaimon, a graduate transfer from Duke, is using his past NCAA tournament experience to teach younger players.

“We can’t overlook an opponent,” Sulaimon said. “They call it March Madness for a reason. We are totally focused on South Dakota State.”

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