Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men Host South Dakota, at Fort Wayne
During their decade in the Summit League, the South Dakota State men's basketball team has claimed a share of three regular season conference titles, but has never been able to claim sole ownership of the league crown.
All of that can change this year if the Jackrabbits can run the table in the final week of conference play.
SDSU (23-6/11-1) enters play with a half-game edge on South Dakota, as they get ready to host the Coyotes, Thursday (February 22) night.
The match-up is USD's (24-6/11-2) final game of the regular season, meaning a Coyote loss in Brookings will ensure they can finish no higher that second in the standings.
South Dakota has been winning games with the Summit League's top defense - holding opposing teams to just 68 points per game on 42 percent shooting.
In the first meeting of the season with SDSU, the Coyotes held the Jackrabbits to 40 percent shooting and their lowest point total of the conference schedule in an 87-68 win.
Matt Mooney led USD with 30 points as the Coyotes outscored the Jacks 49-36 in the second half.
Mooney is coming off a 28-point performance against Omaha last week. Tyler Hagedorn is fourth in the Summit in rebounding.
Nobody gets to the free throw line more than the Coyotes and Jackrabbits. The two teams combine to shoot 43 free throws per game, although they only attempted 23 in the first meeting.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday in Brookings.
Saturday (February 24), the Jackrabbits close out the regular season at Fort Wayne.
The Mastodons (18-12/7-6) have the most up tempo offensive approach in the Summit League. Fort Wayne attempts more field goals (64) and three-pointers (28) per game than any team in the conference. Four times this season they've put up 70 shots or more and in their last three games they've attempted 92 three's.
Fort Wayne has won 13-of-14 at home this year and averages 14 points per game more on their home floor.
Senior guard Bryson Scott is second to SDSU's Mike Daum in scoring, averaging 22 points per game. Juniors John Konchar and Kason Harrell combine for another 31 points between them. Konchar leads the league in assists and steals, is third in rebounding and fifth in blocked shots.
South Dakota State won the first meeting 78-76. The Jackrabbits held Fort Wayne to just 28 percent shooting in the first half and led by 17 points at intermission, but saw the Mastodons erupt for 50 second half points on 54 percent shooting to take a one-point lead in the final minute. Konchar had 18 of his 23 points in the second 20 minutes.
The Jackrabbits sank a trio of free throws in the final twenty seconds to escape with the win.
Tipoff is 6:00 PM, Saturday in Fort Wayne.
Last week, the Jackrabbits ran their home win streak to 19 games with an 82-62 win over Western Illinois.
SDSU used a 5-0 start and runs of 11-3 and 10-3 to open up a 15 point halftime lead. Daum scored ten straight points during one stretch and finished with 30.
The Leathernecks shot just 32 percent in the first half, going 1-of-9 from behind the three-point line.
I talked with South Dakota State head coach TJ Otzelberger about the Western Illinois win and this week's match-ups with South Dakota and Fort Wayne: