North Dakota State (11-3) at South Dakota (6-9)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 3, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: DakotaDome (10,284) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: Midco Sports Network. Home Record: NDSU 6-0, USD 4-2. Away Record: NDSU 3-3, USD 1-6. Neutral Record: NDSU 2-0, USD 1-1. Conference Record: NDSU 2-0, USD 2-1. Series Record:North Dakota State leads, 87-76.
GAME NOTES: The North Dakota State Bison try to stay unbeaten in Summit League play as they venture to the DakotaDome to face the South Dakota Coyotes.
NDSU earned its third win in a row on Saturday by defeating South Dakota State, 65-62, in a tightly contested bout at home. The Bison's victory improved them to 11-3 on the season and 2-0 in conference action. They are only 3-3 in away games, but two of those losses came to nationally ranked foes in Indiana and Minnesota. Coach Saul Phillips has his team playing well on both ends of the floor with a scoring offense average of 70.3 ppg to a much lower scoring defense mark of 57.4 ppg.
Dave Boots and his Coyotes fell to a 6-9 record on New Year's Eve when they suffered a 70-50 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan. The setback came two days after South Dakota completed a 95-72 rout of Nebraska Omaha to build an early season 2-1 Summit League mark. The Coyotes are even better than the visitors on the offensive end with an average of 71 ppg on 43.5 percent shooting from the field, but they need some work on the other end where they are surrendering 74 ppg.
NDSU survived its last two encounters with South Dakota to increase its all- time series lead to 87-76. The Bison swept last season's series by a total of 34 points.
The Bison took a narrow two-point lead into halftime of their bout against SDSU on Saturday before erupting to knock down 57.9 percent from the floor in the second period, during which they limiting their opponents to a mere 2-of-8 from 3-point range in the final 20 minutes of action. Marshall Bjorklund recorded a team-high 20 points, shooting a perfect 8-of-8 from the floor, to go with five rebounds. Lawrence Alexander scored 18 points and recorded six assists, while Taylor Braun contributed 11 points off the bench. Braun's excellent relief work was no fluke. The junior guard has scored in double- figures in seven straight games and leads the team with 15.4 ppg. Bjorklund (12.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Alexander (10.6 ppg, 3.8 apg) are both also contributing in multiple ways on a regular basis.
South Dakota added one of the conference's top newcomers to its squad this season when Kansas State transfer Juevol Myles became eligible to suit up. Myles scored just 13 points against his former team his last time out, but he proved he capable of much more earlier in the month when he poured in 32 points against Morehead State to pass the 20-point mark for the fifth time. The senior guard is averaging a team-best 15.1 ppg. Trevor Gruis (11.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Karim Rowson (11.1 ppg) are joining the former Wildcat in double- figures.
Despite the addition of Myles to the fold, South Dakota will still be an underdog against the visiting Bison. NDSU should be able to keep the ball rolling with its more balanced attack, although it will not be a walk in the park if Myles heats up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 78, South Dakota 72
01/03 10:42:53 ET