FACTS & STATS: Site: Ralston Arena (4,691) -- Omaha, Nebraska. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota 4-2, Omaha 2-1. Away Record: South Dakota 0-5, Omaha 0-9. Neutral Record: South Dakota 1-1, Omaha 1-1. Conference Record: South Dakota 1-1, Omaha 0-2. Series Record: South Dakota leads, 50-42.
GAME NOTES: The Nebraska Omaha Mavericks will play just their fourth home game of the season on Saturday, as they entertain the South Dakota Coyotes in Summit League action from Ralston Arena.
South Dakota has split its first two league matchups, defeating IUPUI (88-68) and losing to Western Illinois (73-71). Overall, the Coyotes are just 5-8, which includes losses in all five of their road games. They most recently traveled to Green Bay and suffered 72-55 defeat at the hands of the Phoenix.
Omaha's season has been a struggle to this point, as it has dropped 11 of its first 14 games. The squad is currently losers of six of its last seven, which includes an 80-72 defeat at the hands of Texas-Pan American last Saturday. The good news for the Mavericks is that they've won two of three contests on their home floor.
South Dakota leads the all-time series with Omaha, 50-42, which includes an 83-81 victory in November of 2011.
The Coyotes have been solid at the offensive end this season, shooting 43.1 percent from the field for 70.8 ppg, but they find themselves with a losing record thanks to negative scoring (minus-3.7), rebounding (minus-4.9) and turnover (minus-2.1) margins. Nothing was clicking in their 17-point defeat at Green Bay last time out, as they made good on just 40.8 percent of their field goal attempts, including 6-of-18 from 3-point range. Trevor Gruis was able to overcome his team's mediocrity by shooting 8-of-11 from the field for 18 points, while Juevol Myles added 15 points in the setback. Although Myles doesn't shoot very well from the field (.388), he is able to make up for it by tallying 16.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg and 1.5 spg. Gruis (11.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Karim Rowson (11.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) have been high-efficiency players, with each connecting on better than 48 percent of their field goal attempts.
It's easy to see why Omaha has struggled this season, as the team averages just 64.4 ppg while allowing opponents to net a lofty 81.8 ppg, and it routinely losses the rebounding (minus-9.0) and turnover (minus-4.1) battles. The Mavericks actually put together a very impressive performance on the offensive end of the floor versus UTPA, making 49.1 percent of their field goal attempts, but as usual, they couldn't keep their opponents off the scoreboard as they fell in an eight-point decision. Justin Simmons led the way in the setback with 17 points, Alex Welhouse added 12 points and seven rebounds, and John Karhoff and C.J. Carter chipped in 14 and 11 points, respectively. Simmons paces the squad on the season with 12.9 ppg, but he's been plagued by nearly twice as many turnovers (43) as assists (23). Karhoff (11.3 ppg) is the only other Maverick to score in double figures.
Both teams have struggled mightily this season, meaning an ugly contest is more than likely in the works. Omaha has yet to show the ability to be anything more than a bottom-dwellar in the Summit League, but at home against another lackluster team is as good a time as any to sneak in a victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Nebraska Omaha 68, South Dakota 67
12/29 10:37:52 ET
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