Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men at North Dakota State, South Dakota
The Jackrabbits (12-14/5-6), who won just once in their first six conference games of the season, have now been victorious in four of their last five, and hold the league's longest current winning streak (three games) heading into a pair of very tough road games this week.
SDSU is at first place North Dakota State, Wednesday (February 8).
The Bison (15-8/7-3) begin the week with a half-game advantage on Denver, despite losing both times out last week.
NDSU gave up 14 three-pointers in an overtime loss at IUPUI and then saw South Dakota shoot 51 percent against them, as the Coyotes won for the first time in Fargo in 15 years.
The Bison are led by a veteran group of players who make a living from behind the three-point arc. Guards Paul Miller and Khy Kabellis average six made threes a game for the Summit League's most accurate three-point shooting team.
Guard AJ Jacobson adds 12 points per game, while Dexter Werner, one of the top reserve players in the conference, contributes 13 points and eight rebounds a game off the bench.
North Dakota State takes very good care of the basketball, leading the Summit with the fewest turnovers per game.
The Bison won the first meeting with the Jackrabbits, 80-69, despite trailing by 15 points at the half.
NDSU recovered from 30 percent first half shooting to make better than 60 percent of their shots in the second half. Jacobson his all four of his three-pointers in the second, as the Bison outscored SDSU 58-32 in the second 20 minutes.
Tipoff is 8:00 PM in Fargo.
The Jackrabbits finish the week at arch rival South Dakota, Saturday (February 11).
The Coyotes (16-10/7-4) will be glad to home after three straight on the road. USD has been shooting the ball very well lately, better than 50 percent in the last two games coming into this week. They have the number one offense in the Summit League and lead in free throw attempts.
Guard Matt Mooney has been red hot lately. Mooney has scored 75 points in his last three games, hitting 54 percent of his shots.
USD defends the three-point line better than anyone in the conference, allowing opponents only a 36 percent success rate from long range.
SDSU won first meeting 73-72 on a last second shot from Mike Daum. Daum, the current Summit League Player of the Week, finished with 30 points. He's had 30 or better in five conference games so far.
The Jackrabbit defense limited the Coyotes to just 31 percent shooting in the first half, but USD turned an eight-point deficit into an eight-point lead with 58 percent shooting in the second half.
SDSU regained the lead thanks to a 13-2 run midway thru the second half.
Mooney led the Coyotes with 22 points.
Tipoff is 1:00 PM in Vermillion.
South Dakota State swept a pair at home last week.
The Jackrabbits played one of their most complete games of the season Wednesday (February 1), in a 98-65 rout of Western Illinois.
SDSU led by 11 at the half after shooting 56 percent in the first 20 minutes. The Jacks also kept the Leathernecks without an offensive rebound in the first half.
In the second half, the South Dakota State defense went to work, holding WIU to just 39 percent while shutting down their top two scoring threats, Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak, who finished a combined 8-of-26.
Michael Orris led SDSU with 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting.
The Jackrabbits scored 62 of their 98 points in the paint.
Against Oral Roberts, Saturday (February 4), SDSU lacked energy early and trailed by ten at the half.
The Jacks, already shorthanded without the injured Ian Theisen and AJ Hess, got into foul trouble in the second half, but got solid contributions from Tevin King and Tyler Flatten off the bench, as SDSU shot 50 percent in the second 20 minutes.
The South Dakota State defense helped key the comeback, scoring 22 points off of 13 ORU turnovers.
On offense, Daum was nearly unstoppable in the second half, going 7-of-11 from the floor for 24 of his game-high 38 points to go with 17 rebounds.
Chris Howell scored 14 of his 20 points from the free throw line as the Jackrabbits won 74-67.
I talked with South Dakota State head coach TJ Otzelberger about last week's sweep and this week's match-ups with North Dakota State and South Dakota: