Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men Host Purdue-Fort Wayne, South Dakota
The Jackrabbits (21-7/11-2 Summit League) are clinging to a half-game lead over Omaha as play begins this week.
Third place Purdue-Fort Wayne is up first at Frost Arena Thursday (February 21).
The Mastodons (17-11/9-4 Summit League) have won five of six and are the number one three-point shooting team in the Summit. They average 11 triples a game and have hit double-digit threes in six of their last seven games.
Senior guards John Konchar and Kason Harrell lead the Dons' offense which is second to SDSU in the league. Kochar is second in the conference in scoring and has 49 points on 15-of-26 shooting (58%) in his last two games. He also leads the Summit in steals and assists.
Harrell is tenth in the league in scoring.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Brookings
Fort Wayne won the first meeting, 104-88, last month in Indiana.
The Mastodons were red hot with their best shooting performance in the last 24 games (57%). That success extended to the three-point line where they hit 17 overall, with junior forward Matt Holba draining five.
The Jackrabbits finish this week with in-state rivals South Dakota Saturday (February 23).
The Coyotes (10-15/4-8 Summit League) snapped a four-game losing streak with a win at Western Illinois last weekend. USD is currently sixth in the Summit.
South Dakota has had its share of shooting woes lately, connecting on under 45 percent of their attempts in four of the last five games.
Three-point shooting has been keeping them in games with 33 makes in the last three.
The Coyotes also get to the free throw line more than any team in the Summit.
After a slew of injuries earlier in the season, USD has gotten healthier especially with the return of senior Trey Burch-Manning, who missed four games during the first half of the conference schedule. He's coming off a season-high five three-pointer performance at Western Illinois last time out.
The Coyotes are without a true post player this season and have been struggling with rebounding (last in the Summit) and interior defense.
Tipoff is 4:00 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
South Dakota State won the first meeting, 79-61, in Vermillion last month.
A surprise Jackrabbit zone defense limited South Dakota to just 27 percent shooting in the first half as SDSU built a 12-point halftime edge.
The Coyotes never got closer than seven points in the second half despite holding Daum to a season-low four points.
Skyler Flatten led SDSU with 20 points. Stanley Umude had 26 for USD.
Last Thursday (February 14), South Dakota State found their touch from the three-point line early in Omaha, hitting eight long-range shots in the first half to lead by 13 at intermission.
In the first 20 minutes, the Jackrabbit defense helped stifle one of the top offenses in the Summit, limiting the Mavericks to just 37 percent from the floor.
But UNO snapped out of their shooting funk in the second half, hitting 62 percent from the floor, erasing a 16-point deficit with an 18-0 run as Matt Pile and KJ Robinson each scored 13 of their 17 points respectively in the second half.
David Jenkins Jr. had a monster second half for SDSU, scoring 25 of his game-high 34 points in the second 20 minutes.
Omaha pushed their advantage to six points with six minutes left, but the Jackrabbits kept chipping away, grabbing an 82-81 lead with 1:50 to play on a Jenkins three-pointer.
The SDSU lead was still one in the game's final seconds when UNO's Mitch Hahn drove the length of the floor and got off a 15-footer despite being double teamed.
The ball found the bottom of the net as time expired and South Dakota State's nine-game losing streak was over.
Final score - 85-84 Omaha.
Hahn led the Mavericks with 22 points.
Jenkins tied a school record with ten three-pointers.
Saturday (February 16) in Fargo, North Dakota State started strong hitting five three-pointers early in the game, seven total in the first half and added 13 points off of SDSU turnovers to lead by nine at the break.
That advantage ballooned to as many as 17 in the second half when the Jackrabbits slowly started to cut into the lead.
Daum had 19 of his 31 points in the second half and Jenkins added 17 of his 24 in the second 20 minutes as SDSU rallied to within a point in the final minute.
The Jacks also took advantage of a pair of key Bison misses from the free throw line. The first by Tyson Ward with eight seconds left that would have given NDSU a four-point lead. The second by Rocky Kreuser with three seconds left gave Jenkins a chance to get off a shot from just inside half court and it banked it at the buzzer giving South Dakota State their only lead of the game and a 78-77 win.
I talked to South Dakota State associate head coach Eric Henderson about last week's games and the match-ups with Purdue - Fort Wayne and South Dakota: