Belmont (8-2) at South Dakota State (4-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 14, 5 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (6,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: Belmont 3-1, South Dakota State 4-1. Away Record: Belmont 3-1, South Dakota State 0-5. Neutral Record: Belmont 2-0, South Dakota State 0-1. Conference Record: Belmont 0-0, South Dakota State 0-0. Series Record: Belmont leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: After their most recent matchup was postponed, the Belmont Bruins will get back to work on Saturday with a non-conference battle at Frost Arena against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
On Wednesday Belmont was scheduled to face Fairfield, but inclement weather in the Northeast halted the Stags' travel plans and the game was postponed for a future date. Belmont has been red hot to start the year, owning a record of 8-2 through its first 10 contests.
South Dakota State was able to make its road trip to face Minnesota on Tuesday but came away disappointed. The Jackrabbits were handed their third loss in the last four games during the contest, which ended in a 75-59 final. South Dakota State is 4-7 this season with all four wins coming at home.
In what was advertised as a marquee mid-major matchup last season, the Bruins crushed the Jackrabbits, 76-49. The meeting was the first-ever between the two programs.
The Bruins' last game ended in a 70-58 victory over Middle Tennessee. Belmont had success utilizing 3-point shooting to best the Blue Raiders as they had a 21-6 edge in scoring from that distance, helping to make up for a lackluster overall shooting effort (.388). JJ Mann carried the bulk of the load, netting 32 points, while also having team-highs in rebounds (seven) and steals (four), as well.
Mann (19.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg) has continually been near the top of the scorer's sheet for the Bruins in most games. The 6-foot-6 guard has scored at least 20 points in five games on the campaign, while hitting 42.1 percent of his shots from the field and 33.3 percent from 3-point range. Mann isn't the only scoring option for the Bruins. Drew Windler (13.4 ppg) is one of three other double-figure scorers. Craig Bradshaw (11.4 ppg) and Reece Chamberlain (10.9 ppg, 4.9 apg) can also fill up the basket, but Chamberlain is more valuable as a distributor. Unfortunately both are listed as questionable with ailments for this contest. In all, Belmont is scoring 82.7 points per game, while ranking among the top 25 teams in the country in field-goal percentage (.499).
South Dakota State had 10 fewer rebounds (40-30) and got outscored in the paint (34-26) and from 3-point distance (24-18) against Minnesota. The Jackrabbits also connected on just 40.7 percent of their attempts from the field, effectively wasting a double-double from Jordan Dykstra (16 points, 12 rebounds).
Dykstra (17.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg) is the most important player on the roster for the Jackrabbits. The 6-foot-8 forward leads the team in scoring and rebounding, has scored in double figures in nine of 11 games, and has five double-doubles to his credit this season. Cody Larson (11.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg) slots in as Dykstra's battery mate in the frontcourt, while Brayden Carlson (11.9 ppg) and Chad White (10.9 ppg) team up on the wings. White was the only other player in double figures for South Dakota State against Minnesota, with 15 points on 4- of-11 shooting. As a group, the Jackrabbits are scoring 71.5 points per game and sinking 42.5 percent of their attempts from the floor.
Playing at home had something to do with how thoroughly Belmont beat up on South Dakota State last season. This year might result in a closer contest, but the Bruins' dynamic roster will be too much for the Jackrabbits, who are too reliant on a single player.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Belmont 81, South Dakota State 73
12/14 10:42:54 ET