Summit League Preview: Coyote Men at IUPUI, Western Illinois
With two games left in the Summit League men's basketball regular season, South Dakota still has work to do to make sure they qualify for the conference's post season tournament.
The Coyotes (13-16/4-10) begin the week two games ahead of last place Western Illinois in the Summit standings, needing a win or Leathernecks loss this week to punch their ticket to Sioux Falls.
The final week finds USD on the road for a pair, starting Thursday night at IUPUI.
The Jaguars won the first meeting with the Coyotes, 77-66, in Vermillion in January. Darrel Combs led four players in double figures, as IUPUI shot 50 percent from the floor. The Coyotes, meanwhile, really struggled from long range going just 2-of-15 from the three-point line.
The Jaguars (12-17/8-6) are second in the Summit League in opponents three-point shooting percentage, third in opponents field goal shooting. Their offense is last in made three-pointers. Combs is eighth in the conference in scoring. Matt O'Leary and Nick Osborne are in the top ten in rebounding.
Tipoff is 6:00 PM in Indianapolis, Thursday.
Depending on what happens Thursday, Saturday's regular season finale at Western Illinois could have great significance. If the Coyotes lose and the Leathernecks win Thursday (WIU hosts first place Fort Wayne), Saturday's match-up in Macomb will essentially be a play-in game for the Summit League Tournament.
USD won the first meeting with the Leathernecks, 76-67, in Vermillion in January. The Coyotes went six minutes without a field goal to start the game and trailed 10-2 early on, and later were down ten in the second half when Casey Kasperbauer caught fire from long range. Over a nine-minute span in the second half, the senior hit on 6-of-7, including four three-pointers, to tally 15 points, part of a 29-5 USD run that gave then the lead for good. The Coyote defense forced 16 turnovers, leading to 22 points.
Western Illinois (9-16/2-12) is the poorest shooting team in the Summit League and last in fouls and turnovers. Garret Covington is fifth in scoring. Rapid City native Tate Stensgaard is tenth in rebounding.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Macomb, Saturday.
Against York, the Coyotes were able to get out to a comfortable lead and rest their regulars. No USD player was on the floor for more 26 minutes. South Dakota was plus-34 on points in the paint.
Against Denver, the Pioneers used runs of 9-0 and 8-0 in the first half and 11-0 in the second half to take control of the game, scoring 30 points off of 16 Coyote turnovers. There was also a huge free throw disparity in this game, DU shot 18 and made 15, USD went to the line just once the entire game, making their only attempt.
I talked with Coyote head coach Craig Smith about last week's split and this week's match-ups with IUPUI and Western Illinois: