When South Dakota State and South Dakota square off in any sport it's a big deal, but when first place is at stake, the match-up between the Jackrabbits and Coyotes reaches epic proportions.

When SDSU and USD meet for the first time on the 2018 Summit League schedule, Wednesday (January 24) in Vermillion, the teams not only come in separated by just one game atop the conference standings, but a full two games ahead of the rest of the field after four weeks.

South Dakota State (17-5/5-0 Summit League) is the hottest team in the conference. The Jackrabbits have won eight straight overall and are the only team with a perfect league record after a month of play.

The Summit's number-one offense will be going up against a South Dakota (17-5/5-1 Summit League) team that has allowed the fewest points per game in the conference.

Matt Mooney is second in the league in steals on a team that leads the Summit with eight takeaways per game. Mooney is also seventh in scoring, averaging 17 points per game.

The Coyotes are without starting guard Carlton Hurst, who's nursing a broken hand.

Tyler Peterson has stepped into the starting lineup, averaging 11 points and four rebounds a game. Starting forward Tyler Hagedorn has really stepped up his game lately, averaging 15 points and eight rebounds in his last four games.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Vermillion.

Saturday (January 27), the Jackrabbits play their final game of the first half when they host Fort Wayne.

The Mastodons (14-9/3-3) are led by senior guard Bryson Scott, who's third in the Summit in scoring and gets to the free throw line more often than any player in the league. Scott is coming off a 31-point performance against North Dakota State, shooting 8-of-13 from the floor and 15-of-16 from the free throw line.

Fort Wayne attempts more three-pointers per game (26) than any team in the conference. Junior Kason Harrell made six long-range shots in the North Dakota State game.

Junior John Konchar leads the conference in defensive rebounds and steals.

Tipoff is 4:15 PM, Saturday in Brookings.

In their lone game last week, the Jackrabbits got strong starts from David Jenkins Jr. and Tevin King who split the scoring early as SDSU raced out to a 14-point halftime lead at Western Illinois. Ian Theisen had ten of his 13 points in the first half of the 98-70 win.

The South Dakota State defense limited the Leathernecks to just 37 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes, while keeping WIU off of the free throw line. SDSU was 9-of-10 from the charity stripe in the first half.

The Jackrabbits extended their lead when they hit the first three shots of what became a 54-point second half.

State shot 50 percent for the game, 19-of-20 from the free throw line and had 17 assists and just seven turnovers.

Jenkins led all scorers with 27 points on 9-of-13 shooting.

Mike Daum was held to just 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting, although he did still manage a double-double with 12 rebounds.

I talked with South Dakota State coach TJ Otzelberger about last week's sweep and this week's match-ups with South Dakota and Fort Wayne: