South Dakota (3-8) at Youngstown State (8-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Sunday, December 29, 2:05 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Beeghly Center (6,500) -- Youngstown, Ohio. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota 2-1, YSU 5-1. Away Record: South Dakota 1-6, YSU 1-5. Neutral Record: South Dakota 0-1, YSU 2-0. Conference Record: South Dakota 0-0, YSU 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A couple of teams trying to finish off the calendar year on a positive note get together in Ohio this afternoon, as the Youngstown State Penguins take on the South Dakota Coyotes in non-conference action.
The Penguins are an impressive 5-1 at home this season, but they've balanced that out with a mark of just 1-5 in true road games. The team is coming off a 96-87 setback to St. John's in New York last weekend, marking the unit's third loss in four outings. The one win during that stretch was a 71-59 triumph over Bethune-Cookman.
As for the Coyotes, they too have found winning on the road to be extremely difficult this season, posting just a single victory in seven tries. The last game for South Dakota 10 days ago now was a complete embarrassment as the squad suffered an ugly 120-83 setback to Morehead State in Kentucky. The loss was the fifth straight for the Coyotes.
In terms of an all-time series between these two programs, this is the first- ever meeting.
South Dakota fell behind 8-0 against the Eagles and never recovered, allowing Morehead State to shoot 55.0 percent from the field and 17-of-32 (.531) behind the 3-point line during the meeting. The Coyotes shot a decent 44.8 percent from the floor and 9-of-21 on the outside, but the squad turned the ball over 19 times, preventing them from mounting any serious comeback bid. Casey Kasperbauer led five players in double figures with his 15 points off the bench, followed by Trevor Gruis with 14 and the trio of Tavian Pomlee, Adam Thoseby and Brandon Bos with 11 points apiece.
Even though wins have been hard to come by this season, the Coyotes are still scoring a solid 71.5 ppg, but giving up 77.4 ppg to opponents who are shooting 40.5 percent from 3-point range. Bos (13.9 ppg) and Gruis (12.4 ppg) lead the offensive attack, while Trey Norris (7.7 ppg) has shown his value in being on the floor, not in his 35.4 percent accuracy shooting the ball, but his team- high 60 assists and 16 steals.
All five starters scored in double figures for the Penguins during their recent trip to the Big Apple, adding another double-digit performer off the bench as well, but even that was not enough to stop the Red Storm from sweeping them away. Kendrick Perry led the way with 20 points, Ryan Weber added 16, Marcus Keene 14 points off the bench, DJ Cole 12, Bobby Hain 11 and Shawn Amiker 10 points before fouling out. Hain also cleared 11 rebounds, allowing YSU to claim a 40-33 rebounding advantage, but with St. John's shooting 50.8 percent from the floor it didn't matter much.
The leading scorer in five straight games for YSU, Perry checks in with 21.2 ppg, thanks to his 52.0 percent from the floor and the fact that he has been to the free-throw line (65-of-88) more than twice as many times as any of his teammates. Accounting for almost four rebounds per game, Perry is one of those rare players who is not only scoring a boat-load of points, but also leading the team in assists (61), not to mention steals (37).
The Penguins are far from a dominant program, but at least the team is at home where it feels most comfortable and is taking on a shaky South Dakota squad to begin with.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Youngstown State 77, South Dakota 66
12/29 11:00:30 ET