Summit League Preview: Coyote Men Host Western Illinois, South Dakota State
Week four of the 2016 Summit League men's basketball schedule will feature three teams in Vermillion trying to reverse their recent fortunes.
South Dakota (9-10/1-4) has lost three straight heading into Wednesday night's match-up against the only winless team in the Summit League - Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks (7-9/0-5) began the year with a big win at Wisconsin, but have dropped their last seven. This is a team that is eighth in the Summit in scoring, despite a talented backcourt with all-conference guard Garret Covington alongside JC Fuller, who scored 41 points in two meetings with USD last season.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Vermillion Wednesday.
Saturday, the Coyotes welcome another team struggling a bit lately.
South Dakota State (14-5/3-2), the pre-season #1 pick in the Summit League, has dropped two of three and hasn't won on the road in more than a month. The Jackrabbits have been struggling with cold shooting lately, hitting better than 45 percent from the floor just once in the last nine games, after doing so seven times in their first 11 games. SDSU is last in the Summit in field goal percentage, eighth in scoring.
The Jacks has been dealing with injuries much of the year to their trio of pre-season all-conference guards. George Marshall missed six games at one point, Jake Bittle has been out for the last seven games, and Deondre Parks has been limited in practice.
Defensive and rebounding have been keeping SDSU in games this year. The Jacks are tops in opponent field goal percentage and second in rebounding. Redshirt freshman Mike Daum has been a nice spark, averaging 16 points and seven rebounds in five conference games.
Tipoff is 4:00 PM in Vermillion Saturday.
South Dakota's third straight Summit League loss came at North Dakota State last week, a 66-65 setback to the Bison.
It was a fairly even first half, except at the foul line where NDSU shot ten times, making nine, while the Coyotes did not attempt a free throw in the first half.
That nine-point Bison advantage ballooned to 16 with eight minutes to play when USD mounted a furious comeback, keyed by Casey Kasperbauer and Shy McClelland who combined to score 13 as part of a 24-9 run.
The Coyotes had two chances in the final ten seconds to secure their first win in Fargo since 2002, but came up empty.
North Dakota State won the battle of the boards 39-28, grabbing 12 offensive rebounds. Kory Brown led the way with 15 boards to go with 21 points.
I talked with USD head coach Craig Smith about the loss and this week's match-ups with Western Illinois and South Dakota State: