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Men's Hoops gets national ranking, 26-point win on same day

Sports Information photo by Taylor Casey
Sports Information photo by Taylor Casey

Senior Connor Bair scored a game-high 26 points and the host Tommies shot 50 percent from the field with only five turnovers in Monday night's 89-63 win over St. Olaf in MIAC men's basketball play at Schoenecker Arena.

No. 16-ranked St. Thomas (11-1 overall, 7-0 MIAC) kept pace atop the standings with conference co-leader and No. 11-ranked St. John's (11-1, 7-0).

The Purple have won 11 in a row and moved to 7-0 at home this season. Earlier in the evening, they moved into the national rankings for the first time this season at No. 16. After being a fixture in the national polls from 2007-16, the Toms haven't been ranked in the D3hoops.com top 25 since December 2016.

The Oles (6-5, 5-2) lost their second in a row after building a six-game win streak.

Bair was named conference Athlete of the Week earlier in the day after scoring 36 points in 35 minutes last week. That award didn't jinx the Tommie senior, who sank a 3-point basket on the game's first possession and went on to make 12-of-18 shots.

St. Thomas never trailed. The Toms surged to a 16-5 lead and built a 42-27 halftime advantage. Bair scored seven consecutive points to cap a 21-3 run that built a 74-46 lead with 8:08 remaining.

The Toms got a lift from freshman guards Riley Miller (career-best 13 points off the bench) and Anders Nelson (11 points, six rebounds and four steals). G.T. Johnson had eight rebounds and two blocks. St. Thomas had a 40-29 edge in bench scoring.

Noah Beck led the Oles with 13 points, eight boards and four assists, and Nate Albers scored 12 points. Austin Korba chipped in eight points and eight rebounds. The Oles shot 29 percent in the first half and 33 percent on the game.

St. Thomas has a bye Wednesday night and plays at third-place Augsburg on Saturday afternoon.