Western Illinois (7-9) at South Dakota State (9-8)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 16, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (6,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: FCS. Home Record: Western Illinois 5-1, South Dakota State 6-1. Away Record: Western Illinois 0-7, South Dakota State 3-6. Neutral Record: Western Illinois 2-1, South Dakota State 0-1. Conference Record: Western Illinois 1-0, South Dakota State 1-1. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 12-3.
GAME NOTES: Following a win against Nebraska Omaha, the Western Illinois Leathernecks are looking to improve to 2-0 in Summit League play as they travel to face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Frost Arena.
Western Illinois closed out non-conference play with a loss to William & Mary on Jan. 4, then rebounded Saturday for a 79-72 overtime victory against Nebraska Omaha in the Summit League opener. The Leathernecks have won two of their last three games.
Since a Jan. 3 game against Buffalo was postponed, South Dakota State has only taken the court twice in game action, defeating IUPUI to open Summit League play and losing to IPFW Saturday, 82-75. The Jackrabbits will host their next three contests.
South Dakota State has a commanding lead early in this budding series, 12-3. Since the Jackrabbits joined the Summit League, they've won 11-of-12 against WIU and nine straight meetings.
The Leathernecks were able to force overtime against Omaha Saturday, despite being down by 12 points with 10 minutes to play in regulation. WIU tied the game, 61-61, on a game-tying jumper by Remy Roberts-Burnett with 10 seconds to play. The overtime period went to the Leathernecks, 18-11. Garret Covington netted a team-high 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the overtime battle, hitting 3-of-10 from the floor and 8-of-10 from the free-throw line. Adam Link scored 13 points off the bench, while Tate Stensgaard contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Covington is the team's leading scorer this season at 13.3 ppg. The guard brings down a healthy 4.7 rpg and is second on the roster in assists with 31 total. Link is hot on Covington's tail with 10.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg and 30 total assists. His 59/7 percent shooting from the floor is well above average, and his 5.1 rpg is tied for the team lead. The Leathernecks only average 62.5 ppg, but are playing great defense in holding their opponents to 59.9 ppg.
Excluding the postponed game against Buffalo, the Jackrabbits had a five-game winning streak going before they ran into IPFW Saturday. Brayden Carlson scored a career-high 24 points in the losing effort on 7-of-16 shooting from the floor, including 4-of-7 from 3-point distance. Jordan Dykstra added 18 points and six rebounds, connecting on 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. Chad White and Cody Larson each added 12 points for the Jackrabbits, who shot 46.9 percent from the field.
Dykstra and Carlson have been the go-to guys this season for SDSU, going one- two in scoring average. Dykstra tops the roster at 16.6 ppg and a team-best 8.2 rpg. Carlson isn't too far off at 14.8 ppg with a team-leading 49 assists and 24 steals. Larson is third in scoring, averaging 13.6 ppg for the Jackrabbits who net 73.5 ppg as a unit. The team is shooting a collective 45.5. percent from the floor.
Western Illinois may be ahead in the conference standings, but the Jackrabbits will prove they're too strong offensively for Western Illinois.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 75, Western Illinois 68
01/16 11:21:00 ET