South Dakota State in position to win Summit League with win

Colton Prince and Trenton Abrego

If the South Dakota State Jackrabbits beat Western Illinois, they win the regular season conference title.

The last time the Jackrabbits (23-7, 13-2), look to hold onto their number one spot against the Leathernecks (9-18, 4-10).

In the last matchup between the two teams, the Jackrabbits ran away with a 100-58 in Macomb, Illinois.

During February, Western Illinois went 1-6, including a 74-46 loss to the last-place Denver Pioneers.

Western Illinois led by reigning Summit League Defensive Player of the Year, in Brandon Gilbeck. It’s been no different this year. Gilbeck, a 6-feet-11 center, leads the NCAA with 100 blocks.

Gilbeck has also been able to clean up the boards for the Leathernecks, with 231 rebounds. Gilbeck is the 60th best rebounder in the NCAA with 8.6 per game.

“Gilbeck has been a staple for them. His ability to protect the rim, block shots, be a physical force in the paint has really helped propel their defense and made them one of the better defenses in the league over the years,” head coach T.J. Otzelberger said.

It’s not just Gilbeck who leads the way for Western Illinois.

Kobe Webster, a sophomore guard, is leading the way for the Leatherneck’s offense with 16.7 points per game. Webster has also made 66 3-pointers on 166 attempts, for a 40 percent mark.

“Kobe Webster, (a) elite scorer. He is one of the better guards in the league,” Otzelberger said.  “He can go make plays and make shots, scores it easily.”

Zion Young, a freshman guard from Chicago, Illinois, has been consistent as the sixth man for the Leathernecks and torched the Jackrabbit defense in the last matchup when he scored 30 of the team’s 58 points.

Tipoff against Western Illinois is scheduled for 4:15 p.m., Saturday at Frost Arena.