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South Dakota State (21-8) at Murray State (19-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 23, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: CFSB Center (8,600) -- Murray, Kentucky. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: SDSU 13-0, Murray State 9-2. Away Record: SDSU 6-8, Murray State 8-4. Neutral Record: SDSU 2-0, Murray State 2-1. Conference Record: SDSU 12-3, Murray State 10-4. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAMES NOTES: Two of the best scorers in the country will square off when Nate Wolters leads South Dakota State against Isaiah Canaan and Murray State in a BracketBusters weekend bout at the CFSB Center.
This is actually the second straight non-conference contest for South Dakota State which lost, 79-78, in a double-overtime marathon against CSU Bakersfield on Wednesday. The setback ended a brief two-game winning streak for the Jackrabbits who are boasting a 21-8 overall record, that includes a Summit League-leading 12-3 mark.
Murray State ended a two-game slide its last time out by outgunning Morehead State, 106-100, in a double-overtime shootout on the road. With the victory the Racers moved that much closer to getting to the 20-win mark as they are now 19-7 overall. At 10-4 in league action the Racers are tied for third in the Ohio Valley Conference standings while owning a 9-2 ledger at home.
This game will be the first ever meeting between these two programs.
Neither team scored in the final 1:49 of regulation between South Dakota State and CSU Bakersfield to force an overtime session. In the first extra period Wolters hit a game-tying layup with seven seconds left to force a second overtime. In the second extra session the Jackrabbits clung to a 78-77 lead with 11 seconds left. However Stephon Carter was fouled after collecting an offensive rebound with one second left and hit the game-winning free throws to down the Jackrabbits.
Led by Wolters (23.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 5.6 apg) the Jackrabbits have been one of the best offensive teams among mid-majors. South Dakota State puts in 73.8 points per game and assists on 14.5 field goals a contest, while shooting a solid 46.1 percent from the field. The Jackrabbits are also the top rebounding team in the Summit League (35.1 pg). Wolters is one of the top five scorers in the country, ranking near the top of the Summit League in assists as well. Jordan Dykstra (12.4 ppg, 77. rpg) is a solid second option and a strong rebounder.
In Murray State's battle with Morehead State the two teams combined for 87 points off turnovers. With the teams knotted at 79-79 with seven seconds left in regulation, Canaan had a shot to win the game but missed a 3-pointer in the final seconds. Canaan missed another jumper in crunch time in the first overtime, but Ed Daniel tipped in the rebound to knot the game at 87-87 and force another extra session. The Racers ran out on a 10-1 run to open the final period and held on for the win.
Canaan (21.2 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 4.2 apg) is the Racers' answer to Wolters. Canaan is among the top 10 scorers in the nation, while finding time to facilitate the offense for the Racers. Murray State relies on an offense that focuses on production from the backcourt. Stacy Wilson (13.5 ppg) is another double- figure scorer in the four-guard rotation for the Racers. Ed Daniel (13.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg) gives the team a frontcourt threat as he is as close as a guarantee for a double-double each night as any other player in the country. As a team Murray State is scoring a solid 73 points per contest, while hitting an even 45 percent from the field.
The Jackrabbits have been running by most teams this season but will struggle against the Racers who have an NBA-ready talent in Canaan and the type of high octane offense to keep up.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Murray State 76, South Dakota State 68
02/23 10:46:47 ET