Summit League Preview: South Dakota Men at Western Illinois, IUPUI
The South Dakota men's basketball team is just two wins away from history.
A sweep on the road in the final week of the season would give USD its' first-ever men's Summit League regular season championship and possibly wrap up a top seed at conference tournament in Sioux Falls, depending on tiebreakers.
The Coyotes (19-10/10-4) begin the final week of the season at Western Illinois, Thursday (February 23).
Leathernecks (8-17/5-9) have dropped back-to-back games, including a double overtime loss at North Dakota State last weekend, blowing a seven-point lead in the last three minutes.
Overall, WIU has lost eight of ten.
They are dead last in the Summit in offense, despite standout seniors Garret Covington and Mike Miklusak averaging 33 points a game between them. Covington has scored over 30 in a game three times this season, including the game in Fargo last week. But, Miklusak has been struggling lately, shooting just 34 percent in his last three games.
Sophomore center Brandon Gilbeck has emerged as an inside presence, leading the conference in blocked shots and fifth in rebounding.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM in Macomb.
USD won the first meeting 62-55, but neither team shot the ball well in the first half. The Coyotes went seven minutes between baskets at the start of the game, but held the Leathernecks to three points in the final six minutes of the half to climb within three at intermission.
USD found its shooting touch in the second half as Mooney started a 9-0 run with a three-pointer and later hit a jumper to give the Coyotes a nine point lead.
Western Illinois would get to within five late, but Tyler Hagedorn and Triston Simpson came in off the bench to score the Coyotes' final 12 points.
The South Dakota defense was tough against WIU's top two scorers, limiting Garret Covington to 3-of-11 from the floor, while , Mike Miklusak went 1-of-9.
USD held a 47-38 advantage on the boards and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds, five from Carlton Hurst.
The Coyotes won despite going just 3-of-14 from the three-point line, 21-of-34 from the free throw line, and turning the ball over 15 times.
At IUPUI, Saturday (February 25), the Coyotes face a Jaguar team (12-16/6-8) that's looking to make a big jump up the standings this week.
IUPUI begins the week in sole possession of seventh place, but could move up two or three seeds in the tournament based on this week's games.
The Jaguars are the top team on the offensive glass in the Summit, but are next-to-last in overall rebounding. They attempt the second most shots per game of any team in the league, but are only seventh in field goal percentage.
Seniors Darell Combs, Matt O'Leary, and Kellon Thomas lead the was offensively, averaging a combined 42 points a game. He's shooting 52 percent and averaging just under 18 points a game in his last four. O'Leary had 23 in a game at South Dakota State last week.
Tipoff is 6:00 PM in Indianapolis.
USD won the first meeting 85-74.
The Coyotes enjoyed their best shooting night of the season (56.6%), but still trailed by seven with 7:00 to play when a Hurst block on Combs keyed a 22-4 run. Mooney scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half. Five USD players scored in double figures.
Combs and Evan Hall carried the Jaguar offense with a combined 38 points on 56 percent shooting, while the rest of the IUPUI roster was 11-of-28 (39%).
77 of South Dakota's 85 points came in the paint (46 points) and off of 17 Jaguar turnovers (31 points).
Last week, the Coyotes finished the home portion of the regular season with an 86-72 win over Oral Roberts, Saturday (February 18).
USD got a big night from the bench, with reserves accounting for half of the team's points (43). Tyler Peterson, Tyler Hagedorn, and Triston Simpson combined for 38 points on 13-of-20 shooting.
South Dakota shot 51 percent against the Golden Eagles and had five players score in double figures.
I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about last week's win and this week's match-ups at Western Illinois and IUPUI: