Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men at Western Illinois
The Jackrabbit men (16-5/4-0 Summit League) will put a seven-game winning streak on the line when they play at Western Illinois, Saturday (January 20).
The Leathernecks (10-7/1-3 Summit League) finally got their first conference win this week, beating Fort Wayne, Wednesday (January 17) night. Prior to that overtime win, Western had lost five of their last seven.
It's a rebuilding year for Western Illinois, who is trying to fill the void left with the graduations of Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak and their combined 36 points a game from last season.
Freshman guard Kobe Webster has started every game this season and is averaging 18 points per contest. He's fourth in the Summit in minutes played, fifth in scoring, and eighth in assists. He and SDSU's Jenkins will likely battle for the league's Freshman of the Year award at the end of the season.
Leatherneck senior Dalan Ancrum averages 13 points per game. Junior center Brandon Gilbeck is third in the conference in blocked shots, ninth in rebounding.
Western Illinois is dead last in most of the Summit League's offensive categories, scoring a league-worst 61 points per game. In their last four losses, the Leathernecks are shooting 21 percent (17-of-81) from the three-point line.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Saturday in Macomb.
In the battle of Summit League unbeatens last Thursday (January 11), the Jackrabbits got off to a slow start, falling behind by nine early before rallying for a 78-75 win over Oral Roberts.
SDSU used a 13-2 run to start the second half to go up as many as 12, but the Golden Eagles cut that lead to one with 2:30 left.
The Jackrabbit defense limited ORU to just one field goal in the final 2:30, while the Jacks got a pair of key offensive rebounds and three free throws from David Jenkins Jr. to seal the victory.
Mike Daum finished with his ninth double-double (27 points/12 rebounds) of the season. Reed Tellinghuisen added 20 points.
Saturday (January 13), the Jacks got out of the gate quickly in a 94-72 win over Denver.
SDSU scored 24 of the game's first 32 points, eventually hitting eight three-pointers in the first 20 minutes, while keeping the Pioneers scoreless from the arc in the first half.
Overall, State shot 54 percent for the game with Daum's 34 points and Jenkins' 27 points leading the way offensively.
I talked with South Dakota State coach TJ Otzelberger about last week's sweep and this week's match-up with Western Illinois: