FACTS & STATS: Site: DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: Midco Sports. Home Record: Omaha 4-3, South Dakota 5-4. Away Record: Omaha 0-12, South Dakota 2-7. Neutral Record: Omaha 1-1, South Dakota 1-1. Conference Record: Omaha 2-6, South Dakota 4-4. Series Record: South Dakota leads, 51-42.
GAME NOTES: A Summit League showdown between the Coyotes of South Dakota and the Nebraska Omaha Mavericks is on tap for the DakotaDome on Thursday night.
Omaha's season has been a struggle from the very start, as it has won just five of its 21 games overall, and at 2-6 in the Summit League it sits only above hapless IUPUI (1-7) in the standings. The Mavericks are losers of four of their last five matchups, which includes an 84-79 non-conference setback to Cal State Bakersfield last Saturday, and they are winless in 12 true road tests this year.
South Dakota has been less-than-impressive this season at 8-12, but it has been able to piece together a solid run in league play with a 4-4 mark. The Coyotes had been losers of four of five prior to last Saturday's meeting at Oakland, where they came away with a 97-78 victory.
These two teams met in Omaha earlier this season, with South Dakota claiming a 95-72 decision on Dec. 29 to take a 51-42 advantage in the all-time series.
Omaha found itself down by 15 points at intermission against Bakersfield, and even though it made up for lost time by shooting better than 60 percent in the second half, it was not enough to lead the team to victory. All five starters scored in double figures, paced by 14 points apiece from John Karhoff and Justin Simmons. C.J. Carter (13 points), Alex Phillips (11 points) and Alex Welhouse (10 points) rounded out the balanced effort. Scoring points has rarely been an issue for the Mavericks this season, as they shoot nearly 46 percent from the floor for 69.0 ppg. On the other hand, they are plagued by one of the nation's worst defensive efforts, as they allow an unsightly 83.0 ppg on 49.2 percent shooting. The squad has also performed poorly on the glass, getting outrebounded by more than eight boards per contest. Simmons does his best in leading the team with 14.8 ppg, while Karhoff adds 11.9 ppg on 47.9 percent shooting.
South Dakota put forth its best offensive effort of the season in its recent 19-point win over Oakland. The team shot 57.6 percent from the field, including 10-of-19 from 3-point range, while making all but one of its 20 free throw attempts. Casey Kasperbauer drained five of those long-range buckets on his way to a career-high 23 points. Juevol Myles overcame seven turnovers by netting 17 points, Brandon Bos tallied 13 points and six assists, Trevour Gruis and Jordan Boots scored 11 points apiece, and Karim Rowson capped off a fantastic team effort with 10 points and seven rebounds coming off the bench. The Coyotes aren't typically light-out on offense like they showed the last time out, but they still put up a more-than-respectable 72.4 ppg on nearly 45 percent field goal efficiency. The only problem is that they allow their opponents to net 75.2 ppg. Myles hasn't been the strongest shooter (.388), but he still leads the team with 15.5 ppg. Gruis is solid in the paint with 11.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg and nearly a block per contest, while Bos (10.2 ppg), Rowson (10.0 ppg) and Kasperbauer (8.9 ppg) have also proven to be consistent performers.
Expect plenty of scoring in this matchup between two suspect defenses. Omaha may be able to keep it close, but it will be hard-pressed to outlast the Coyotes, who have a chance of posting another 90-plus point performance against the lackluster Mavericks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota 90, Nebraska Omaha 77
01/24 10:34:47 ET
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