Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men at Western Illinois, North Dakota State
It was the best of times and the worst of times all rolled into one week, as the South Dakota men's basketball team followed up an emotional win with a lackluster performance moving from the first half to the second half of the Summit League regular season.
The Coyotes (18-6/6-2 Summit League) start week five in sole possession of second place, one game out of the top spot behind South Dakota State.
This week features two big tests on the road.
Tonight (February 1), USD plays at Western Illinois.
The Leathernecks (10-10/1-6 Summit League) are still trying to figure things out offensively this season. They are last in the conference in scoring, but feature one of the Summit's top freshmen, Kobe Webster.
The guard is fourth in the conference in scoring, averaging 20 points per game. He's coming off of his first back-to-back 20-plus point performances of the season - 22 against Denver, 24 against North Dakota State - on 51 percent shooting. He had 19 points in the first meeting with USD.
Junior center Brandon Gilbeck is a presence on the inside. He's second in the Summit in blocked shots, ninth in rebounding.
WIU is in the midst of a three-game losing streak. They are next-to-last in the conference in points allowed, and have seen opponents shoot 53 percent against them over those three games.
South Dakota won the first meeting, 62-50.
Neither team shot the ball well in the first half, but USD forced seven turnovers and led by 13 at intermission. The Coyotes also capitalized on the offensive glass, scoring 14 points off of 15 offensive rebounds.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, tonight in Macomb.
Saturday (February 3), the Coyotes get a rematch against the only team to beat them in the first half - North Dakota State.
The Bison (12-10/4-3 Summit League) enter the week second in the Summit in points per game and shooting percentage.
They won their last two games of the first half thanks in large part to Paul Miller. The senior guard scored 51 points on 60 percent shooting in wins over Western Illinois and Omaha, earning Summit League Player of the Week honors.
North Dakota State the first meeting with USD, 84-79, in Vermillion.
The Bison out shot the Coyotes 57 to 38 percent in the first half, leading by 11 at intermission. USD rallied to take the lead with under five minutes to play in the game, but were outscored 11-5 down the stretch.
Freshman guard Cameron Hunter scored 21 of his career-high 35 points in the second half.
Tipoff is 2:00 PM, Saturday in Fargo.
Last week, the Coyotes finished off the first half of Summit League play with a 87-68 win over South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits grabbed an early six point lead, thanks for 4-of-5 shooting and five straight points from Daum. But State's shooting went cold the rest of the way, hitting just 8-of-24 (33%) the rest of the half and 13-of-33 (39%) in the second half.
South Dakota used a 14-0 first half run to take a six-point lead at the break, before blowing the game open with an 18-3 run early in the second half.
USD's Matt Mooney and Tristan Simpson combined for 50 points and eight of the Coyotes' ten three-pointers.
The Coyotes followed up the big win with a flat start Saturday (January 27) in Denver.
The Pioneers' Joe Rosga single-handily outscored South Dakota 13-3 in the opening moments of the 84-68 loss. USD trailed by 14 at halftime after shooting 36 percent in the first 20 minutes.
They got no closer than nine points in the second half.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's split and the match-ups with Western Illinois and North Dakota State: