Summit League Men’s Tournament Preview: (2) South Dakota vs. (7) Omaha
The South Dakota men's basketball team won a Division I era school record 24 games during the regular season, but as they Coyotes get set to tip off the 2018 Summit League Tournament, it'll have been a full two weeks since USD last tasted victory.
On the plus side for the second-seeded Coyotes (24-7/11-3), that last victory (February 17) came against the same Nebraska-Omaha team they're facing in round one, Saturday (March 3) in Sioux Falls.
South Dakota has won six-of-seven, thanks in large part to the stingiest defense in the Summit League, allowing opposing teams an average of 68 points per game on just 42 percent shooting.
Shooting has been a problem as of late for the seventh-seeded Mavericks (9-21/4-10), who have been held under 40 percent in two of their last three games.
Omaha is fifth in scoring, but dead last in defense, allowing more than 82 points per game.
The Mavericks have three players who average in double figures, led by guard Zach Jackson's 17 points per game. But junior forward Mitch Hahn (12 points per game) has missed 16 games, including both match-ups with USD.
The Coyotes swept the season series, winning by 14 in Omaha and by 15 at home. USD scored 50 points in the first half of the first meeting and hit 21-of-25 from the free throw line. In the second meeting, the South Dakota defense held UNO to a Summit League season-low 2-of-14 from the three-point line.
Jackson scored 18 points for the Mavericks in the first meeting, but was just 1-of-7 from the floor in the second.
Tipoff is 8:30 PM, Saturday in Sioux Falls.
South Dakota ended the regular season with a 76-72 loss at South Dakota State, last Thursday (February 22). Matt Mooney's career-high 33 points helped bring USD back from a 16-point second half deficit, but the Coyotes other four starters only combined for 30 points in the game.
The biggest difference between the first meeting, which the Coyotes won in Vermillion, was rebounding. USD was plus-ten on the boards in the first meeting, minus-11 in the second, allowing SDSU 14 offensive rebounds.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's loss and the match-up with Omaha: