Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men at Oral Roberts
The Coyotes are in Tulsa, tonight (January 18), to battle Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles have just one win in five conference starts, after opening Summit League play with three straight on the road (all losses).
ORU (5-14/1-4) returned home last week and split, beating South Dakota State and losing to IUPUI. The Golden Eagles have shot the ball at a better than 50 percent clip in the last two.
Slowing them down means trying to stop center Albert Owens. The 6'9 junior has scored over 20 points in each of his last four games. He's third in the league in scoring, ninth in rebounding.
On the outside, guards Kris Martin and Jalen Bradley average better than 30 points a game between them. Martin, a sophomore, has scored 20 or better in his last three. Bradley, the older brother of USD women's basketball player Jaycee Bradley, is coming off his best shooting night of the season (8-of-11) against IUPUI, last Saturday (January 14).
The Golden Eagles are the second best rebounding team in the Summit. They have been taking very good care of the basketball this season with fewer than ten turnovers six times.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Tulsa.
Last Wednesday (January 11) against first-place North Dakota State, the Coyotes (13-8/4-2) fell behind almost immediately, as the Bison drained a trio of three-pointers in the first 3:30, while USD was missing four of their first five shots to fall behind by as many as 17 points.
The Coyotes shot just 38 percent in the first half.
In the second half, with an injured Austin Sparks on the bench, Tyler Hagedorn stepped in to hit back-to-back shots to draw South Dakota to within eight.
Then with eight minutes to play, the Coyotes found their groove offensively, as Matt Mooney keyed a 10-0 run with four points, and all of the sudden USD had a three-point advantage with 5:45 left.
That lead was one in the final minute, when Hagedorn missed a jumper, but Carlton Hurst grabbed the offensive rebound, giving the Coyotes a fresh shot clock. With 28 seconds left, Mooney was fouled and went to the line with a chance to put USD up three, but the 73 percent free throw shooter missed both, and the Bison grabbed the ball with a chance to play for the win.
NDSU wouldn't get off a shot, but Dexter Werner did get fouled inside with :05 left, and promptly went to the line and drained what proved to be the game winning free throws in a 70-69 Bison victory.
The loss was the second one-point defeat in league play for USD.
After eight straight wins to start the season in their new home, it was the Coyotes first loss in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.
The Coyotes looked to bounce back against Summit League pre-season favorite Fort Wayne, Saturday (January 14), at home.
Mooney started strong and so did the Coyotes, jumping out to an early six-point lead in the first four minutes. Mooney had five of USD's first nine points.
The lead was one 3:30 minutes later when the Mastodons went on a tear, when Purdue transfer Bryson Scott rattled off 11 straight points, all part of a Fort Wayne 11-3 run to take a ten point lead.
The Coyotes would get back to within three, but the Mastodons scored the last five points of the half to lead by eight at intermission.
USD's three-point shooting would bring them back in the second half, as the Coyotes drained three long range shots in a four minute stretch to tie the game at 45 with 11:49 left.
Hagedorn erupted for nine points in the next six minutes to put South Dakota in front by ten.
But this time it was Fort Wayne's turn to go on a scoring run, as three straight three-pointers cut the lead to a basket, and then back-to-back buckets from Scott gave the Mastodons a two-point lead with inside two minutes to play.
But those would be the last points Fort Wayne would score, as USD's defense clamped down, while Mooney scored the Coyotes last five points, including a pair of clutch free throws with :21 left to seal the 66-63 win.
Mooney finished the night with a career-high 30 points.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's games and this week's match-up with Oral Roberts: