Western Illinois (19-5) at South Dakota State (20-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 5:05 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (6,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: FCS, Midco Sports Net. Home Record: WIU 10-1, SDSU 12-0. Away Record: WIU 7-4, SDSU 6-6. Neutral Record: WIU 2-0, SDSU 2-1. Conference Record: WIU 11-2, SDSU 11-3. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 11-3.
GAME NOTES: The South Dakota State Jackrabbits will try to stay perfect at Frost Arena as they play their final home game of the regular season against the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a key Summit League matchup.
The Jackrabbits went on the road to defeat WIU, 59-53, in a low-scoring affair on Jan. 17. The victory increased SDSU's all-time series lead to 11-3. Nate Wolters pushed the Jackrabbits to the win by posting 22 points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals while Terell Parks led the Leathernecks with 14 points and 10 boards.
Entering Saturday, SDSU trails WIU for first place in the Summit League race by just a half-game. A win would put the Jackrabbits in first and give then a tie-breaker over WIU if the schools finish the season with identical conference records.
SDSU bounced back from a five-point road loss to Oakland in a shootout on Thursday with an 82-45 rout of IUPUI. Wolters tallied a game-high 18 points while Jordan Dykstra registered a double-double with 14 points and a career- best 15 rebounds. The Jackrabbits went 28-of-52 (53.8 percent) from the field and limited the Jaguars to 35.8 percent field goal efficiency en route to the easy victory.
Wolters is submitting one of the most impressive overall performances in the country this season. The 6-foot-4 senior guard is the fourth leading scorer among Division I players with 22.6 ppg, which he is accompanying with 5.7 rebounds and 5.4 assists per tilt. Wolters made national headlines just a few weeks ago by pumping in 53 points to lead SDSU past IPFW to register the highest individual scoring output in Division I since Jodie Meeks poured in 54 for Kentucky on Jan. 13, 2009. Dykstra (12.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Tony Fiegen (10.3 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are excellent forwards thriving alongside the superstar point guard.
As for WIU, it continued its defensive pummeling of the opposition on Thursday in its 49-36 win at North Dakota State. The bout went into the intermission with the Bison on top, 22-17, after an ugly 20 minutes in which WIU shot just 33.3 percent from the field. The Leathernecks knocked down 58.8 percent of their attempts from the floor in the second half where they limited NDSU to 3- of-22 shooting from the field and 14 points, which set a new season-low for either half. Parks notched a double-double with 13 points and 15 rebounds to spearhead the charge and Adam Link netted a game-high 14 points for WIU as it collected its third win in as many games. Ceola Clark added 10 points and five assists.
While Parks is a consistent threat in the post, Clark does a little bit of everything with 11.3 points, 4.2 assists and 1.7 steals per game. Link, Jack Houpt and Don McAvoy III are all decent role players that do a nice job of keeping defenses honest.
The Leathernecks delivered a very impressive defensive display at NDSU in their last appearance, while SDSU showed off its offensive prowess against IUPUI. This should be a closely contested bout, but Wolters is having a special kind of season that leaves little doubt he will find a way to get the job done to propel his squad to the top of the Summit League's ladder.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 65, Western Illinois 60
02/16 10:36:35 ET