South Dakota Showdown: Top two teams in Summit League face off

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After an impressive 98-70 win on the road against Western Illinois, the South Dakota State men’s basketball team is headed to Vermillion Jan. 24 to face their toughest test of this Summit League season.

The Jacks (16-5, 5-0) will face the South Dakota Coyotes in a battle of the top two teams in the Summit League. The Coyotes, who are 17-5 overall and 5-1 in the Summit League, defeated Omaha 85-71 on the road in their previous game.

SDSU is on an eight-game winning streak and firing on all cylinders offensively. Seven players scored in double-digits for the Jacks with freshman David Jenkins Jr. leading the way at 27 points. This is the second game in a row Jenkins scored 27 points.

Jenkins won Summit League Player of the Week for his performance. This is the third week in a row an SDSU player won the award and the fifth time in the last six weeks. Jenkins is sixth in the country in total points scored by a freshman.

“David’s phenomenal,” said head coach T.J. Otzelberger. “He’s continued to step up and raise the level of his game in conference play.”

SDSU is averaging 87 points per game, which is ninth best in the country. However, the Coyotes are the best defensive team in the Summit League, allowing only 67.1 points per game. Otzelberger said the Jacks have to get stops defensively early so they can get out in transition.

USD is led by junior guard Matt Mooney who is averaging 17.3 points per game, which is fifth best in the Summit League.

It’s always a crazy atmosphere when these two rivals meet and it won’t be different this time. Otzelberger says his team is well prepared because of where they played in the non-conference part of the season.

“Playing at places like Kansas, Wichita and Colorado really helps prepare you, because you’re playing in those tough atmospheres and that’s why we went with that schedule,” Otzelberger said.

SDSU has won nine of the last 11 games between the two teams, including the last matchup when the Jacks defeated the Coyotes 74-71 in the semifinal of the Summit League Tournament.

After the game in Vermillion, SDSU will come back to Brookings and host the Fort Wayne Mastodons Jan. 27. Fort Wayne comes into the game with an overall record of 14-9 and 3-3 in the Summit League.

The Mastodons defeated North Dakota State 92-88 Jan. 20. Fort Wayne is led by freshman guard Bryson Scott, who is leading the Summit League and is ninth in the country in scoring, averaging 23 points per game. Junior Kason Harrell is averaging 13.7 points per game and senior forward John Konchar averages 8.2 rebounds per game.

“Fort Wayne is a team that offensively is very good,” Otzelberger said. “Bryson Scott is one of the best players in the league. Kason Harrell is one of the best shooters in the league and John Konchar is a heck of a mismatch and a tough rebounder.”

The game in Vermillion will tip off at 7 p.m. at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center and the game against Fort Wayne will tip off at 4:15 p.m.

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