Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men Host Denver, at South Dakota State
Fresh off a key Summit League road win last week, South Dakota heads into the final four games of the regular season with a chance to greatly enhance their seeding at next month's conference tournament in Sioux Falls.
The Coyotes (10-15/4-8 Summit League) begin the week a full two games clear of the bottom the standings and within striking distance of the middle of the pack in the Summit.
First up for USD this week is Denver Wednesday (February 20) night at home.
The Pioneers (7-19/2-10 Summit League) have lost five straight and currently occupy last place in the conference, putting them in danger of missing the Summit League Tournament.
DU has given up 90-plus points in three of their last five games which is problematic for a team that is seventh in the conference in scoring.
The Pioneers have a trio of talented players - guards Joe Rosga and Ade Murkey and forward Ronnie Harrell Jr. - who all average better than 13 points per game.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Wednesday in Vermillion.
South Dakota won the first meeting 71-70 win in Denver on a layup by Cody Kelley with seven seconds left.
The Coyotes shot 53 percent in the first half and drained eight three-pointers to lead by nine at intermission.
The Pioneers hit seven of their first 11 shots in the second half to take the lead with 14:24 left.
The lead traded hands four times over the next 14 minutes until Kelley's eventual game-winner.
Triston Simpson led the USD scoring attack with 20 points.
Saturday (February 23) South Dakota plays its final road game of the regular season when they travel to South Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits (21-7/11-2 Summit League) lead the Summit League by a half-game coming into the week after losing a buzzer-beater at Omaha and then winning on a last-second shot at North Dakota State last week.
SDSU has the two of the top three scorers in the league on their roster. Senior forward Mike Daum averages better than 25 points per game while sophomore guard David Jenkins Jr. scores 20 a contest.
Jenkins Jr. has scored 58 points in his last two games while connecting on 17 three-pointers. Daum is also the leading rebounder in the Summit and had pulled down 56 in his last three games.
State has the number-one team in field goal percentage, rebounding, steals, and fewest points allowed in the conference.
Tipoff is 4:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
The Coyotes dropped the first meeting with the Jackrabbits, 79-61, in Vermillion last month.
SDSU surprised the USD offense with a zone defense early in that game and the Coyotes struggled, shooting just 27 percent in the first half, trailing by 12 at intermission.
South Dakota held Daum to a season-low four points in the game, but could get it no closer than eight points in the second half.
Skyler Flatten led SDSU with 20 points.
Last Saturday (February 16), the Coyotes snapped a four-game losing streak with an 80-67 win at Western Illinois.
USD got off to a 6-0 start in Macomb before hitting a scoreless stretch that allowed the Leathernecks to grab their one and only lead of the game.
But based on the strength of a defense that forced nine first half turnovers and 12 points and seven rebounds from Stanley Umude in the first 20 minutes, the Coyotes built a six-point halftime lead.
That lead ballooned to double digits three and a half minutes into the second half as Trey Burch-Manning scored 17 of his 20 points in the second frame.
USD turned it over just three times in the second half and went 7-of-13 from behind the three-point arc.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Todd Lee about last week's game and this week's match-ups with Denver and South Dakota State: