For the second straight year, South Dakota State enters the final week of the regular season with a chance at an outright Summit League title.

The Jackrabbits (23-7/13-2 Summit League) have a one-game edge on second place Omaha with one game to play before next week's conference tournament in Sioux Falls

Western Illinois is SDSU's final opponent.

The Leathernecks (9-19/4-11 Summit League) have lost six-of-seven are currently a game above last place in the conference standings.

WIU is dead last in most of the Summit's offensive statistics, scoring 68 points per game and shooting under 43 percent.

The Leathernecks have been much better on the defensive end, limiting opponents to 75 points per game on 47 percent shooting, both numbers are third best in the Summit.

Senior center Brandon Gilbeck anchors the defense inside, leading the conference in blocked shots and fourth best in rebounding. He blocked ten shots in a game at Purdue-Fort Wayne last month.

Sophomore guard Kobe Webster scores 16 points a game. That's tenth best in the Summit. He scored just four points in WIU's loss at Denver, Thursday (February 28),

Tipoff is 4:15 PM, Saturday in Brookings.

South Dakota State won the first meeting 100-58 in the conference opener in Macomb in late December.

The Jackrabbits never trailed in the game, hitting nine three-pointers in the first half, building a 25-point lead at intermission. David Jenkins Jr. scored all of his 23 points in the first half.

The South Dakota State defense notched nine steals in the game. Alex Arians finished with four.

SDSU led by as many as 46 points in the second half and ended the game shooting 62 percent with 13 three-pointers. The Leathernecks shot just 29 percent.

Mike Daum had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds

State outscored WIU by 30 in the paint and was plus-13 on the boards.

Last Thursday (February 21), the Jackrabbits avenged their only loss in the first half of the Summit League schedule with a 92-83 win at home over Purdue-Fort Wayne.

The first half was a showcase of two of the Summit League's top offenses and top offensive players.

Fort Wayne, on the strength of John Konchar's 17 points, shot 55 percent in the first half and buried nine three-pointers in the first 20 minutes. South Dakota State, behind 19 points from Daum, shot 51 percent in the first half, connecting on six three-pointers.

The Jackrabbits built an early seven-point lead but the Mastodons went on a 28-13 run over a seven-minute stretch, hitting 10-of-13 from the floor, including seven three-pointers, to lead by eight.

SDSU shot 7-of-12 in the final 6;30 to trail by four at intermission. The Jacks turned it over eight times in the first half.

In the second half, State played much more physical and Fort Wayne's shooting production was greatly impacted. The Dons hit just 31 percent in the second half, only converting on only five of 18 three-point attempts.

Despite their shooting woes, P-FW still led by nine with 15:52 to play.

The Jackrabbits began chipping away with Skyler Flatten hitting a pair of three-pointers after starting the night 0-of-6 from long range.

Daum was a presence on the defensive end, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking four shots in the second half.

With the game tied at 78 with 4:40 to play, SDSU hit four of their final six shots, outscoring Fort Wayne 14-5 down the stretch to clinch a top-two seed in next month's Summit League Tournament in Sioux Falls.

Daum finished with 38 points to move into 10th place all-time on the NCAA career scoring list. He also pulled down 20 rebounds.

Konchar had 27 points in a losing effort,

Saturday (February 23), South Dakota State extended their current win streak to three games with a 94-89 win at home over South Dakota.

The Jackrabbits and Coyotes were both red hot early at Frost Arena, each shooting better than 60 percent from the floor in the first ten minutes.

USD controlled the next eight minutes after Daum went to the bench with two fouls.

The Coyotes got eight first-half three-pointers as a team and 16 first-half points from Cody Kelley to shoot 65 percent in the first 20 minutes, leading by as many as 16.

The Jackrabbits were able to shave the lead to ten at intermission as Flatten's three-pointer as time expired gave SDSU some momentum heading into the locker room. Flatten had 15 first-half points.

In the second half, Daum picked up his third foul less than two minutes in and SDSU went on a run without him, outscoring USD 10-2 as Tevin King exploded for 16 of his career-high 22 points in the second 20 minutes.

After the Jacks pull even at 63, the Coyotes had an answer scoring seven straight only to see Daum return and SDSU rattle off seven in-a-row.

The lead would then change hands six times in the final nine minutes. The last coming on Daum's 3,000th career point with 1:02 left.

From there, the Jackrabbits sealed the win with eight free throws in the final 20 seconds.

Daum finished with 25 points. Kelley's 21 led USD.

I talked to South Dakota State associate head coach Eric Henderson about last week's games and the match-up Western Illinois:


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