There are still three weeks left in the 2018 Summit League regular season, but at this point, only two teams have a realistic shot at the conference crown and the number-one seed in the Summit League tournament that comes with it.

The South Dakota men's basketball team is one of those two, opening play this week a half game behind South Dakota State and a full two-and-a-half games ahead of third place Fort Wayne.

The Coyotes (20-6/8-2 Summit League) can put more distance between themselves and the Mastodons (16-10/5-4 Summit League) when they host Fort Wayne tonight at the Coyote Sanford Sports Center.

The 'Dons have won two straight on the strength of their three-point shooting and defense. In wins over Oral Roberts and Denver, Fort Wayne made a combined 26 long range shots. The Mastodons lead the conference in three-point attempts.

The Mastodon defense is also tops in the Summit in steals, picking off 23 passes last week alone. They forced 37 turnovers in those two games.

Senior Bryson Scott is the third leading scorer in the conference, averaging 23 points per game. He hit 54 percent of the shots he took last week.

Junior John Konchar leads the league in assists and minutes played and is in the top ten in rebounding, points per game, and blocked shots.

Junior Kason Harrell is the number-one three-point shooter in the conference. He's hit 25 long range shots in his last four games.

USD won the first meeting 68-58. Both teams shot under 40 percent and turned the ball over a combined 30 times, but the Coyotes controlled the boards, out rebounding Fort Wayne by ten, and limited the Mastodons to just 3-of-20 from the three-point line, outscoring them 18-9 from beyond the arc.

South Dakota put four players in double figures and rallied from a nine-point deficit in the first half.

Fort Wayne's Scott led all scorers with 26 points.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, tonight in Vermillion.

Sunday (February 11), the Coyotes fill an open date in their schedule when they host Peru State.

The Bobcats (16-8/10-3 Heart of America Conference), out of the NAIA, will play the game as an exhibition.

Tipoff is 1:00 PM, Sunday in Vermillion.

Last week South Dakota won twice on the road.

Thursday (February 1) in Macomb, USD used a 20-3 run midway through the first half and an 18-5 run early in the second half en route to 80-54 win against Western Illinois.

The Coyote defense limited a Leatherneck offense that averages 48 percent from the floor to under 30 percent for the game.

Tyler Hagedorn led the South Dakota offense with 19 points. No Coyote player was on the floor for more than 25 minutes.

That meant a fresh group heading to Fargo, Saturday (February 3) to play at North Dakota State, the only team to beat USD the first time through the schedule.

The Coyotes did not shoot well in this one, but used rebounding and defense to post a 76-72 win.

USD scored 14 first half points off of 12 NDSU turnovers and outscored the Bison by eight in the second half on second chance points, thanks to ten offensive rebounds.

North Dakota State shot 67 percent in the second half and slowly chipped away at a 20-point halftime deficit to pull to within a basket in the final minute. But USD's Tyler Peterson scored five straight points in the final 20 seconds to secure another 20-win season.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's sweep and the match-ups with Fort Wayne and Peru State:

 


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