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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, January 11, 7 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Gates Sports Center (2,300) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: SDSU 6-1, IPFW 7-1. Away Record: SDSU 3-5, IPFW 4-4. Neutral Record: SDSU 0-1, IPFW 2-0. Conference Record: SDSU 1-0, IPFW 1-0. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 11-8.
GAME NOTES: The IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons will try to improve on a three-game win streak when they host the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in a Summit League showdown at the Gates Sports Center.
The Jackrabbits have gotten used to playing on the road of late, with their last two bouts taking place away from Frost Arena. The most recent venture ended in an 86-70 victory over IUPUI in their conference opener on Thursday. South Dakota State has no won five straight and lifted itself to 9-7 overall. A three-game homestand is next, beginning against Western Illinois.
IPFW has the most impressive overall mark in the league right now, with 13 wins in 18 chances. The Mastodons showed that their non-conference success should carry over to league play, as they topped North Dakota State, 82-71, in their first Summit League game on Thursday. They will get to prove themselves on the road next against Denver.
South Dakota State, which won the Summit League regular season crown last year, defeated IPFW in both regular season bouts, and in a 72-56 final in the conference tournament. Overall, the Jackrabbits have won eight straight against the Mastodons to sprint to an 11-8 advantage in the all-time series.
Jordan Dykstra scored 26 points and Cody Larson tacked on 22 for South Dakota State in Thursday's win over IUPUI. The Jackrabbits shot 51.8 percent from the field and really took advantage of their opportunities at the free-throw line, going 24-of-29.
Finding their footing after Summit League Player of the Year Nate Wolters graduated last year has been a challenge for South Dakota State. The team has clearly managed to find its groove to an extent, largely due to the efforts of Dykstra (16.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) and Larson (13.8 ppg). Brayden Carlson (14.2 ppg), who finished with 19 points against IUPUI, is another guy who is leaned on heavily. Chad White (10.1 ppg) rounds out the unit's double-digit scorers, although Jake Bittle (9.9 ppg) is certainly capable of going off in any given game.
Luis Jacobo paced IPFW to its recent win, as he scored 20 points on 5-of-12 shooting to lead four players in double figures for the Mastodons, who drained 51.9 percent from the floor, hit 8-of-17 shots from beyond the arc and logged a 24-10 edge in points off turnovers.
IPFW has done well for itself by performing admirably at the offensive end of the court. The Mastodons rank among the top-three teams in the Summit League in scoring (79.1 ppg), assists (15.2 apg) and field goal percentage (.477). In fact, they are seventh nationally when it comes to shooting. Jacobo (14.4 ppg) leads the way for a stable of scorers. Although Steve Forbes (11.7 ppg) is the only other player averaging in double figures at the moment, the roster features a total of eight players putting in at least 7.5 ppg.
The Mastodons don't take many bad shots and have a host of options to choose from at the offensive end. It may finally be time for IPFW to put an end to South Dakota's recent dominance in this rivalry.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: IUPU-Fort Wayne 76, South Dakota State 70
01/11 12:33:21 ET
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