South Dakota State (15-10) at Western Illinois (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 15, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota State 9-3, Western Illinois 6-3. Away Record: South Dakota State 6-6, Western Illinois 1-11. Neutral Record: South Dakota State 0-1, Western Illinois 2-1. Conference Record: South Dakota State 7-3, Western Illinois 3-6. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 13-3.
GAME NOTES: The South Dakota State Jackrabbits have caught fire, winning five consecutive games and trying for a sixth as they hit the road to face the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a Summit League showdown at Western Hall.
After starting conference play out with a 2-3 record, South Dakota State has won five in a row in the league and is tied with IUPU-Fort Wayne for second behind North Dakota State in the standings. The Jackrabbits are coming off a 77-60 rocking of Nebraska Omaha Thursday night.
Western Illinois has lost three straight games and four of its last five. The Leathernecks, who lost to North Dakota State Thursday night, 56-52, have struggled out to a 3-6 start in conference play, and will have to face SDSU for a second time Saturday.
The Jackrabbits have started the all-time series with Western Illinois on the right foot, owning a 13-3 record over WIU. South Dakota State won the earlier matchup this season in Brookings, 64-55.
South Dakota State made sure Nebraska Omaha didn't get much of a chance in Thursday night's win, as the Jackrabbits jumped out to a 10-point lead at the end of the first half, and then continued to expand on their lead in the second frame. Brayden Carlson tallied 17 points to lead the team, while both Cody Larson and Jake Bittle notched double-doubles with 16 points and 10 rebounds apiece. SDSU shot 47 percent from the field in the contest.
Jordan Dykstra, who scored just six points and grabbed six rebounds in Thursday's game against Omaha, leads the team in scoring this season with 16.3 ppg and a team-best 7.5 rpg. Dykstra is followed closely by Carlson, who nets 15.4 ppg on 50.6 percent shooting from the floor with a team-high 71 assists. Larson is third with 13.5 ppg, and Chad White is fourth at 10 ppg. The Jackrabbits are averaging 73.8 ppg through 25 games played.
Western Illinois did a fantastic job of hanging with the Summit League's top team record-wise on Thursday night, going into the half down by just two points. The Bison added another two on to their lead in the second half, but the Leathernecks showed they can battle with the best. Adam Link and Jabari Sandifer each netted 13 points to pace Western Illinois. Michael Ochereobia chipped in nine points with a team-high six rebounds in the loss.
Garret Covington, who scored just five points in the loss to NDSU, leads the Leathernecks in scoring this season with 14.3 ppg on 41.6 percent shooting from the floor. He's the only WIU player to average a point total in double figures. Ochereobia leads the squad in rebounding at 5 rpg, and Sandifer tops the team with 72 total assists on the year.
South Dakota State has had one of the stronger starting fives in the Summit League all season, and now they're starting to come together and play well- rounded basketball. Watch out for the Jackrabbits and their offensive weaponry.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 76, Western Illinois 64
02/15 10:57:06 ET