South Dakota State (13-6) at Western Illinois (14-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 17, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: Mediacom. Home Record: SDSU 8-0, WIU 8-0. Away Record: SDSU 3-5, WIU 4-3. Neutral Record: SDSU 2-1, WIU 2-0. Conference Record: SDSU 4-2, WIU 6-0. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 10-3
GAME NOTES: The Western Illinois Leathernecks put their perfect Summit League record on the line as Nate Wolters and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits visit Western Hall.
This will be just the 14th meeting between these schools on the hardwood. South Dakota State owns a 10-3 all-time series lead after winning the last seven encounters versus Western Illinois, including a 52-50 overtime decision in last season's Summit League Championship game which propelled the Jackrabbits into the NCAA Tournament.
South Dakota State continued to climb back towards the pinnacle of the Summit League standings on Saturday as it completed an 83-57 rout of IUPU-Fort Wayne to rise to a 4-2 mark. The Jackrabbits are 13-6 overall despite a very difficult non-conference slate that included opposition such as Alabama, Tennessee State, Minnesota, Belmont, and New Mexico. Coach Scott Nagy's squad actually upset the then undefeated Lobos on the road, where it is 3-5 on the season. Wolters led all scorers with 29 points in the team's recent win over IPFW. Marcus Heemstra tied a career-best with 12 points and Chad White tallied the same amount.
The Jackrabbits are leading the Summit League in scoring (73.1), assists (14.8), and rank second with 143 made 3-pointers. The team revolves around Wolters, who fills up the stat sheet with 21.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.7 assists per tilt. Jordan Dykstra (12.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg) and Tony Fiegen (10.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are both solid contributors as scorers and rebounders. The Jackrabbits' offensive capabilities were clear on Saturday as they hit 55.6 percent of their field goal attempts including 7-of-13 from beyond the arc to pick up their second straight victory. SDSU also had a very encouraging performance on the other end, as IPFW's 57 points set a new opponent-low.
Continuing the strong defensive display may not be too tall of an order, as Western Illinois is tied for last in the conference in scoring with only 62.8 points per outing. Coach Jim Molinari's squad is however owns the fourth lowest scoring defense average in the nation with only 52.2 points allowed per outing. The Leathernecks collected their Division I era record 11th win in a row on Saturday as they downed Nebraska Omaha, 89-74. Western Illinois is tied with North Dakota State for first place in the Summit League with a 6-0 league record and the two are scheduled to meet this Saturday at Western Hall.
Senior forward Terell Parks powered the 11th straight win with a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds while Don McAvoy III added 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting. No Western Illinois team has started a season out with a 7-0 record in its Division I history, but this team is not backing down with Parks (13.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg) leading the way. Senior point guard Ceola Clark III is generating 11.9 points and 4.3 assists per tilt.
The Leathernecks will try to slow down the pace to frustrate SDSU, but the Jackrabbits have one of the top closers in the nation in Wolters. Western Illinois needs Clark to show up on both ends of the court for it to fend off SDSU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 64, Western Illinois 60
01/17 10:34:38 ET