After two wins at home last week, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team’s record improved to 16-5 overall and 4-0 in the Summit League. The Jacks defeated Oral Roberts 78-75 on Thursday and Denver 94-72 on Saturday.
SDSU will have the week off before heading to Macomb, Illinois Jan. 20, and will face the Western Illinois Leathernecks.
Junior forward Mike Daum has been spectacular in Summit League play. In four conference games, Daum is averaging 31.3 points per game, which is the best in the Summit League, and is shooting 53.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three.
Daum isn’t the only player on the team scoring efficiently. Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. is averaging 17.5 points per game and is shooting 45 percent from the field in Summit League games. He is averaging 15.3 points per game overall and has scored 322 points this season.
Daum has the record for points scored as a freshman with 518 and if Jenkins continues to score like this, he is on pace to break that record.
Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said that although Jenkins has been great offensively, he still needs to work on his defense.
“I think David is a really competitive kid. We have to continue to keep him engaged defensively when he’s away from the basketball,” Otzelberger said. “I think if he wants to go from being a really really good player to an elite player he’s going to have to work defensively because he’s already really special offensively.”
Senior forward Reed Tellinghuisen is third in the league in three-point shooting at 47.6 percent. Senior forward Skyler Flatten, who was granted a sixth year of eligibility last week, is fourth in the Summit League in three-point shooting percentage at 47.1 percent. Otzelberger said it’s crucial other guys are stepping up, besides Daum.
“We’ve come to expect Mike Daum to score big numbers,” Otzelberger said. “David Jenkins and Reed Tellinghuisen have also consistently scored. But I think our team is at its best when other guys step up and contribute.”
Western Illinois (9-7, 0-3) is in last place in the Summit League and will face Fort Wayne Jan. 17 before taking on the Jacks.
The Leathernecks are led by freshman guard Kobe Webster, who is averaging 15.3 points and 4.7 assists per game. Western Illinois lost last year’s leading scorer Robert Covington to graduation.
“They’re a team that’s dangerous,” Otzelberger said. “We have to keep playing our style of basketball. Which is sharing the basketball and play with a pace.”
The Leathernecks are second-best in the Summit League defensively, only giving up 67.4 points per game. Part of the reason Western Illinois has been so successful on defense is due to the fact that junior center Brandon Gilbeck is leading the Summit League in blocks per game with 2.9.
“Gilbeck is the best low post defender in the conference,” Otzelberger said.
Gilbeck and the Leathernecks will face their toughest challenge this season in SDSU. The Jacks average 86.5 points per game, which is the best in the Summit League.
Otzelberger said the Jacks are happy with the 4-0 start and their rank at the top of Summit League, but he doesn’t want his team to look ahead.
“With only 14 league games, all of them are more important,” he said. “We look at each game as ‘we need to go 1-0 that day’. At this point we’ve had four opportunities in front of us and we’ve done our best to make the most of them and get four victories and we’re going to have to do the same thing at Western Illinois.”
The game will start at 2 p.m. Jan. 20 at Western Hall. This will be the first game in a two-game road trip. The Jacks will face South Dakota Jan. 24 in Vermillion.