Summit League Preview: South Dakota State Men Host Denver, Oral Roberts
For the first time since having a 26-game home win streak snapped nearly three weeks ago, South Dakota State takes the floor at Frost Arena when the Jackrabbits open week three of the 2019 Summit League schedule.
SDSU (12-6/2-1 Summit League) welcomes Denver and Oral Roberts this week.
The Pioneers (5-13/0-4 Summit League) have lost five straight overall and are the only winless team in conference play after two weeks.
DU is near the bottom of most of the offensive categories in the Summit despite having three players average in double figures in scoring. Creighton transfer forward Ronnie Harrell Jr., and guards Ade Murkey and Joe Rosga all score 13 points a game. Rosga scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting in Frost Arena last season. Murkey was 11-of-19 vs. SDSU last year in two games.
Murkey is also a presence on the defensive end with the second most steals in the conference coming in.
The Pioneers are one of the top rebounding teams in the Summit, especially on the offensive end. Sophomore forward Donoven Carlisle averages eight boards a game.
Tipoff is 7:00 PM, Thursday (January 10) in Brookings.
Saturday (January 12) league co-leaders Oral Roberts come to Frost Arena.
The Golden Eagles (7-11/3-0 Summit League) struggled to score points during a 4-11 non-conference run to open the season but have averaged 84 points per game since Summit League play began.
One of the big reasons is the play of redshirt junior forward Emmanuel Nzekwesi, who's averaging 25 points per game in conference play on 58 percent shooting. He is the reigning Summit League Player of the Week.
The Golden Eagles get to the free throw line more than anyone in the league, scoring an average of 15 points per game from the charity stripe.
ORU is also playing solid defense through the first three games of the conference schedule. The Golden Eagles hold opponents to a league-low 73 points per game, are first in blocked shots and second in steals and opponents field goal percentage (44%).
Nzekwesi's ten rebounds a game have helped establish Oral Roberts as the second-best team on the glass in the Summit.
Tipoff is 4:15 PM, Saturday in Brookings.
Last week, the Jackrabbits ran into one of the hottest teams in the Summit League in a 104-88 loss at Purdue-Fort Wayne.
SDSU built a five-point lead four minutes in as David Jenkins Jr. scored eight of the Jacks first ten points.
But the Mastodons started connecting from behind the three-point line, hitting eight in the first half to build a five-point lead at intermission.
The home team blew the game open at the beginning of the second half, with all six of their initial baskets in the second 20 minutes coming from long range, while SDSU started the half 3-of-11.
Fort Wayne shot 61 percent in the second half and finished the night with 17 three-pointers. Matt Holba was responsible for five of those triples.
Mike Daum led SDSU with 29 points in a losing effort.
Sunday (January 6), the Jackrabbits rebounded with a 79-61 win at South Dakota.
The SDSU zone defense held the Coyotes to just 27 percent first-half shooting, as the Jacks led by 12 at intermission despite Daum playing only eight minutes because of foul trouble.
South Dakota State blew the game open with an 18-3 second-half run to secure the win.
Skyler Flatten led the Jackrabbit scoring with 20 points while Alex Arians added a career-high 19 points.
I talked with SDSU associate head coach Eric Henderson about last week's split and this week's match-ups with Denver and Oral Roberts: