The South Dakota men's basketball team has yet to play this week and already they've improved their standing in the Summit League.

By virtue of North Dakota State's loss at Fort Wayne, Wednesday night (February 15), the Coyotes are now tied with the Bison for the top spot in the conference with three games left.

USD (18-10/9-4) takes the floor as the co-leaders when they host Oral Roberts, Saturday afternoon (February 18) in Vermillion.

The Golden Eagles (4-10/8-20) are currently in last in the Summit and are in risk of failing to qualify for the conference tournament in two weeks in Sioux Falls.

Oral Roberts has dropped six of their last seven after shooting below their season average (46%) in their last five losses. The defense has also been an issue, eighth in the league in points allowed and opponents field goal percentage, last in opponents three-point percentage.

One thing ORU has done well this year is take care of the basketball. They are second in the conference with 11 turnovers per game.

Junior center Albert Owens is the star offensively. He's fourth in the Summit in scoring and gets to the free throw line the third-most of anyone in the league. Owens is also second on the offensive glass.

Guards Jalen Bradley, Kris Martin, and Aaron Anderson all score in double figures.

The Golden Eagles beat the Coyotes earlier this season, 90-80.

In that game, USD started well, shooting 50 percent in the first half, with Trey Burch-Manning scoring 11 of his 15 points in the first 20 minutes.

But the Coyotes three point lead at the break was quickly erased when ORU went on a 16-0 second half run. Anderson keyed the attack, scoring all 20 of his points in the second 20 minutes of the game. He also grabbed 10 rebounds during the game.

South Dakota struggled with three-point and free throw shooting in Tulsa. The Coyotes were just 5-of-19 from long range and 17-of-30 from the line.

Matt Mooney's 24 points led USD. Trey Dickerson added 17.

Oral Roberts got 21 points from Owens, who also blocked three shots.

The Golden Eagles were plus-seven on the boards against USD.

Last week, the Coyotes extended their current win streak to three, thanks to a pair of wins.

Wednesday (February 8), South Dakota won 93-82 at Fort Wayne.

USD used an early 10-0 run to grab an eight point lead, before the Mastodons' three-point shooting got them back in it. John Konchar, Bryson Scott, and Jordan King all hit triples in a 20-8 Fort Wayne run to put them us by as many as nine.

The Coyotes went on a shooting tear in the second half, hitting five straight at one point to grab a three point lead. Tyler Flack was perfect from the floor (7-of-7) in the second half, scoring 17 of his game high 29 points. Matt Mooney added 21, as USD finished the game shooting better than 56 percent from the floor, 94 percent (16-of-17) from the free throw line.

The South Dakota defense also came up big, forcing 13 turnovers which led to 23 points at the other end.

Back home Saturday (February 11), the Coyotes avenged an earlier loss to South Dakota State, beating the Jackrabbits 91-89.

Both teams shot the ball exceptionally well (52%), especially from long range, combining for 27 three-pointers.

USD rode a rebounding advantage and edge in second chance points to a 14-point lead with 15:00 to play, but SDSU's Reed Tellinghuisen nearly single-handedly shot his team back into the game draining five triples in span of 6:30 to bring the Jackrabbits to within one. Tellinghusien finished with a game high 28 points. Mike Daum added 22, despite going just 4-of-11 from the floor.

But Mooney responded for the Coyotes with 14 points over the next seven minutes, including four three-pointers, putting USD up seven in the final minute. He finished the game with 25 points. Flack had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's sweep and this week's match-up Oral Roberts: