The race for the Summit League regular-season title was potentially turned around on Tuesday, when North Dakota State announced that leading scorer Taylor Braun would miss four-to-six weeks with a stress fracture in his right foot.
|Braun averages 15.2 points for the Bison. (US Presswire)|
Braun, a 6-foot-7 swingman, was injured during the second half of Saturday's win against Oakland.
"It's certainly unfortunate for Taylor, from the standpoint of what he's done for us as a team to this point," coach Saul Phillips said during his weekly "Coaches Corner" segment. "His leadership, the work he put in over the summer."
Braun had helped get the Bison out to a 6-0 start in Summit play, where they sit tied for first place with Western Illinois. North Dakota State is 15-3 overall, ranked No. 56 in the RPI.
Braun had been a key cog in North Dakota State's attack, averaging 15.2 points and 5.0 rebounds and also dishing out 2.8 assists. He is shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range.
"I feel horrible for Taylor. But for the rest of us, you know what? We're still sitting in a good spot," Phillips said. "There's no pout in us. And I think we've got a big ol' chip on our shoulder now."
How does this affect the Summit race? North Dakota State has back-to-back road games coming up against Western Illinois and South Dakota State during the next two weekends. A couple of losses there, and the Bison will suddenly be chasing from behind for the final month of the season.
Given his size and ability to score in different ways, Braun was a matchup problem for most opponents in the Summit. In his place, look for Mike Felt or Chris Kading to see an increase in minutes. Felt is a gunner who can heat up in a hurry, and Kading provides frontcourt depth.
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