South Dakota State (0-1) vs. Loyola Marymount (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 9, 6:30 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Jenny Craig Pavilion (5,100) -- San Diego, California. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota State 0-0, LMU 0-0. Away Record: South Dakota State 0-0, LMU 0-0. Neutral Record: South Dakota State 0-1, LMU 1-0. Conference Record: Grand Canyon 0-0, LMU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: In their second matchup of the San Diego Classic, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits will attempt to bounce back against the Loyola Marymount Lions at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Life without Nate Wolters did not start well for South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits let a six-point lead slip away in the final five minutes as they fell, 74-70, to tournament host San Diego on Friday night. The Jackrabbits are coming off back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances, but the path to a third will be challenging without Wolters, who was a third-team All- American last season. The Jackrabbits did not have the same offensive punch without Wolters on Friday as they shot at just a 42.9 percent clip from the floor, while turning the ball over 16 times.
The Lions got quite the scare in their opening-round matchup with Grand Canyon, which was making its first regular-season appearance as a Division I program. After jumping out to a 41-29 lead at halftime the Lions went cold from beyond the arc (1-of-5) in the second half but managed to hold on for a 78-75 victory. Though it was certainly not a strong start to the year the positive result is something the Lions will surely take after having only 11 victories in 34 games a year ago.
Saturday's contest will be the first meeting between these programs.
The dip in scoring efficiency was to be expected for the Jackrabbits considering they lost Wolters, a player that scored 22.3 points and dished out 5.8 assists per game last year. Without him, the Jackrabbits did not look like the team that ranked 22nd in the nation in field-goal percentage and among the top 50 teams in the country in scoring (73.4 ppg). Jordan Dykstra was the second leading scorer last season but he did not take the mantle of go-to scorer from Wolters on Friday, managing just five points on 2-of-6 shooting. Brayden Carlson and Jake Bittle were much less shy with their shot attempts as each had 10 in the game. Carlson managed 12 points on his attempts, while Bittle came off the bench to connect on three 3-pointers and finish with 18 points. Marcus Heemstra (16 points, six rebounds) and Cody Larson (11 points, eight rebounds, four assists) each turned in solid performances as well, but the Jackrabbits are still in need of a leader.
In the victory over Grand Canyon it was no surprise that Anthony Ireland was the leading offensive threat as he dropped in 14 points. A year ago Ireland was the main scoring option for the Lions at more than 20 points per game. Though he struggled to find his shot at times against Grand Canyon (4-of-12), Ireland certainly looks to be taking on the role of go-to scorer yet again. A trio of other players scored in double figures for the Lions as well, with Ben Dickinson (12 points), Gabe Levin (11) and Ayodeji Egbeyemi (11) all getting in on the action. Levin was particularly impressive as he also pulled in nine rebounds, had a pair of assists as well as two blocks and two steals. As a team the Lions connected on 45.2 percent of their shots from the field.
It is obviously still very early in the season and Dykstra, who averaged over 12 points per game last season, will improve. Look for him to bounce back on Saturday and for the Jackrabbits to leave San Diego with a 1-1 record.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 73, Loyola Marymount 68
11/09 10:39:19 ET