Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men Host Purdue-Fort Wayne
If there was ever a team that welcomed an open week on the schedule it was South Dakota who has been decimated by injuries so far in the 2018-19 season and is hoping to benefit from a week off between games as they welcome Purdue-Fort Wayne to Vermillion Sunday for Summit League week three action.
The Coyotes (7-9/1-2 Summit League) are down a pair of starters (Trey Burch-Manning and Tyler Hagedorn) and a bench player (Logan Power), but that hasn't kept them from being competitive for most of this season with six of their nine losses coming by six points or less.
They'll be in for a test this weekend as the most potent scoring group in the conference comes to town.
The Mastodons (12-7/4-0 Summit League) have won six straight thanks to an offense that's already topped the 100-point mark five times this season and shot the ball 50 percent or better seven times in the last eight games.
Fort Wayne leads the Summit in points per game (93) and three-pointers per game (12). They torched South Dakota State for 17 triples last week, drained 15 in a win over Oral Roberts Thursday (January 10) and hit 21 in a non-conference win over Eastern Illinois back in November.
Senior guards John Konchar and Kason Harrell have been unstoppable the first two weeks of league play. Konchar is averaging a double-double (25 points and 10 rebounds) and Harrell in scoring 21 a game. Junior forward Matt Holba is coming off a 20-point performance against SDSU which saw him drain five threes.
Konchar, an early player of the year candidate, is also second in the Summit in rebounding, third in assists. Harrell is hitting 65 percent of his shots in the last three games.
Tipoff is 1:00 PM, Sunday in Vermillion.
South Dakota split a pair of games last week, starting with a 71-70 win at Denver.
The Coyotes used good shooting and defense early to open up a nine-point advantage just p[ast the halfway point of the first half.
After the Pioneers got as close as three, USD nailed four three-pointers in the final 6:33 to extend their lead back to nine at intermission.
But the Coyotes were again plagued by a slow second-half start as Denver needed just three minutes to even the score.
USD managed to stick around despite going three minutes at one stretch without a field goal and in the final seconds got a Cody Kelley layin with seven seconds left to pull out the road win.
Despite being outshot 50 percent to 46 percent, the Coyotes outscored Denver 36-9 from behind the three-point arc and forced 14 turnovers which led to 23 points.
Triston Simpson led all scorers with 20 points.
Sunday (January 6), the Coyotes shot the ball poorly against a South Dakota State 2-3 zone defense in a 79-61 loss.
USD began the game hitting just three of their first ten shots, falling behind by 12 at the break. The shooting woes continued in the early stages of the second half when the Coyotes went just 4-of-15 and found themselves down 20.
Sophomore Stanley Umude was the lone bright spot for South Dakota, scoring 26 points, pulling down nine rebounds, and blocking three shots.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Todd Lee about last week's split and this week's match-up with Purdue-Fort Wayne: