GAMES NOTES: After pouring in a Division I single-game high this season on Thursday, Nate Wolters leads the South Dakota State Jackrabbits into Athletics Center O'Rena for a Summit League showdown with the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.
Wolters just didn't seem to miss on Thursday against IUPU-Ft. Wayne, as he nailed 17-of-28 shots from the floor, including 9-of-14 from beyond the arc, en route to a school-record 53 points. The win keeps the Jackrabbits in a tie with Western Illinois for the top spot in the Summit League standings (10-2) while improving to a conference-best 19-6 overall. The Jackrabbits have won eight straight games, including three straight road tests.
Though there were no records broken, Oakland managed to earn a crucial 66-63 victory over North Dakota State on Thursday. The win was the fourth straight for the Golden Grizzlies who are now 12-13 overall and a solid 7-4 in league play. The Golden Grizzlies have lost just once in nine tries at Athletics Center O'rena.
Back on Jan. 10 South Dakota State earned an 81-74 victory over Oakland. It was the second win in the last three matchups for the Jackrabbits who have still been dominated by the Golden Grizzlies all-time, 10-3.
Wolters scored 38 of his 53 points in the second half against IPFW, actually outscoring the Mastodons over the final 20 minutes. His nine 3-pointers were also a school record and helped the Jackrabbits rally from an 11-point deficit at one point in the contest.
His efforts against IPFW may have put Wolters (22.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.5 apg) in the national spotlight but followers of the Summit League have already been aware just how sensational he has been this season. The 6-foot-4 guard is the fourth leading scorer in the country and tops the Summit league in assists, while ranking among the best 15 rebounds in the conference. Adding to the firepower for the Jackrabbits are Jordan Dykstra (12.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) and Tony Fiegen (10.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg). With Wolters at the helm the Jackrabbits are the highest scoring (73.3 ppg) and best passing (14.4 apg) team in the Summit League.
Oakland trailed 63-59 against North Dakota State but clawed their way back by scoring the final seven points of the contest, five of which came from the free-throw line. The Golden Grizzlies shot just 43.1 percent from the field in the contest but did manage to knock down eight shots from beyond the arc.
The Golden Grizzlies can counter Wolters' production with their own prolific scorer in Travis Bader (21.8 ppg). The 6-foot-5 guard is the fifth leading scorer in the country and has scored 20 or more points in seven of the last eight games, including a 47-point eruption against IUPUI. Bader isn't as versatile though as he adds little on the glass or in passing. Corey Petros (12.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg) is an imposing force inside and has knocked in 58.5 percent of his shots from the floor which is the third best percentage in the conference, Duke Mondy (12.2 ppg, 5.0 apg) has been both a solid scorer and distributor. Oakland is the second best scoring team in the conference (72.4 ppg), but has failed to put up more wins by allowing teams to score 73.3 points per game.
Bader may be able to go shot for shot with Wolters, but the Jackrabbits have more talent and versatility up and down the roster and should be able to edge out a tough road win.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 78, Oakland 74
02/09 10:33:08 ET
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