Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men at Fort Wayne
The Coyotes (14-5/2-1 Summit League) play at Fort Wayne, Thursday (January 11).
The Mastodons (12-7/1-1 Summit League) have scored the second most points of any team in the conference up to this point and pulled off a 20-point win at Indiana last month.
They are led by the Summit's second leading scorer, guard Bryson Scott. The senior is averaging 23 points per game in part because he gets to the free throw line more often than anyone else in the conference.
Scott did have 40 points in two league games last week, but struggled from long range, going just 1-of-11 from the three-point line against Oral Roberts and Denver.
Junior guard John Konchar averages close to a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds a game. He's also the top defender in the conference with the steals in two games, including seven in a win at Denver.
Fort Wayne will test the Coyotes perimeter defense with their guard heavy approach. The Mastodons average about 30 three-point attempts a game - far more than any other team in the Summit.
Tipoff is 6:00 PM, Thursday in Fort Wayne.
The Coyotes opened last week with a 62-50 win at home against Western Illinois, Wednesday (January 3) night.
Defense was the key in this game as both teams shot under 34 percent.
Despite a cold shooting night, the Coyotes grabbed a 13-polint halftime lead, thanks for a number of second chance opportunities on 14 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Carlton Hurst grabbed four of those boards.
Meanwhile the USD defense was limiting the top shooting team in the Summit League to just eight made baskets on 26 first half attempts (31%).
The Leathernecks would trim the Coyotes advantage to just four in the second half, but USD kept the game out of reach by hitting 12-of-13 from the free throw line down the stretch. Matt Mooney, despite going just 3-of-11 from the floor, was 8-of-9 from the free throw line.
The South Dakota defense scored 15 points off of 15 Western Illinois turnovers. Trey Burch-Manning had three steals.
Saturday (January 6), the Coyotes got the start they wanted against North Dakota State, jumping out to an early 12-point lead on the strength of three early three-pointers from Mooney.
But the Bison, the only team to win at USD last season, had an answer.
NDSU drained five straight three-pointers over a two-and-a-half minute stretch to turn a five-point deficit into an eight-point advantage.
Redshirt freshman Cameron Hunter was nearly perfect in the first half - 4-of-4 from the three-point line, 5-of-6 overall - with 14 points in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, the Coyotes, without Hurst (broken hand), clamped down on defense turning the Bison over nine times while mounting an 18-4 run to take a one-point lead with 4:45 left.
But NDSU grabbed the lead back with 2:11 to play and sealed the 84-79 win with eight of their final 13 points coming from the free throw line, including six straight from Hunter, who finished with 35 points.
North Dakota State shot 53 percent for the game. USD shot 43 percent and was led by Mooney's 23 points.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's split and the match-up with Fort Wayne: