After an inconsistent run through the non-conference portion of their schedule, the South Dakota men's basketball team appears to be hitting its stride, with wins in each of the last two non-conference games and a victory in their Summit League opener last weekend.

The success last Saturday even more remarkable when you consider head coach Joey James and many of his players were battling the flu much of last week:

(Photo by Dave Eggen/Inertia)

With a brand new coach in place this season for the first time in 25 years, the Coyotes were looking to make an early statement in Summit League play, and Coach James' team did just that with a 59-54 win over the #2 pre-season team in the league, Denver.

The Coyotes did it thanks to strong inside play from center Trevor Gruis, who finished with  19 points and 10 rebounds, and a great defensive effort in the second half, limiting the Pioneers to just 26% shooting.

USD Coach Joey James on the Denver game:

(Photo by Dick Carlson/Inertia)

Thursday, the Coyotes host IUPUI, the only team to lose both games last weekend, after grabbing just one Summit League win in 2013.

Despite their record, the Jaguars have talent, and center Mitch Patton did score 24 points in a game against USD last year.

Coach James on the match-up:

With the top two pre-season Summit League picks both going down on the road in week two, it's a reminder of just how competitive the conference is and how hard it is to win on the road:

Tipoff is Thursday night at 7:00pm in the DakotaDome in Vermillion.