After hitting the floor just once in the past week, the South Dakota men's basketball team is back in action with a pair of Summit League games this week.

The Coyotes (15-5/3-1) begin play in sole possession of second place, just one game back of South Dakota State in the standings.

Oral Roberts comes to Vermillion tonight (January 17).

The Golden Eagles (7-13/3-2) had a slow start to the season under new head coach Paul Mills, before winning six-of-eight at the end of non-conference play and the beginning of Summit League play.

But ORU was swept on the road at South Dakota State and North Dakota State last week.

Tonight's game will be the third straight away from Tulsa for this young team, which starts four sophomores and a freshman. Second year players Emmanuel Nzekwesi and Javan White are having big impacts this season. Nzekwesi is second in the league in rebounding and ninth in scoring. White is third in rebounding, fourth in steals.

The veteran presence comes from senior Albert Owens, who comes off the bench for about 22 minutes a game and leads the Summit in blocked shots.

Oral Roberts gets off more shots than any other team in the league and grabs the most offensive and total rebounds.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, tonight in Vermillion.

Saturday (January 20), the Coyotes travel to Omaha, where they will meet up with a team that is struggling to replace three key members (Marcus Tyus, Tre'Shwan Thurman, Tra-Deon Hollins) of last year's 18-win season.

Guard Zack Jackson has picked up some of the scoring slack, with 84 points on 57 percent shooting in his last four games. Guard Daniel Norl is tenth in the league in scoring and tops in assist-to-turnover ratio.

The Mavericks have been exceedingly generous on defense, allowing a conference worst 86 points per game.

Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Saturday in Omaha.

The Coyotes had just one game on the schedule last week, a 68-58 win at Fort Wayne, Thursday (January 11) night.

USD dug themselves a hole early, as the Mastodons hit a pair of early three-pointers and led by nine, eight minutes in.

The Coyotes responded with a 12-2 run and nine straight points from Tyler Peterson at one point to grab a six-point halftime lead.

South Dakota pushed the lead to double digits in the second half and used their defense to seal the win.

After allowing two early three-pointers, USD limited the top three-point shooting team in the Summit League to just one made three the rest of the game, while forcing 16 turnovers and out rebounding the Mastodons by ten.

The Coyotes went the final 5:11 without a field goal, but kept their lead thanks to seven points from the free throw line.

Peterson, Trey Burch-Manning, and Tyler Hagedorn paced a balanced scoring attack with 12 points each. Matt Mooney had ten points.

South Dakota's bench pitched in seven points from Brandon Armstrong and six points and four rebounds from Nick Fuller.

I talked with Coyotes head coach Craig Smith about the Fort Wayne win and the match-ups with Oral Roberts and Omaha:

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