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Men cruise into tournament as top team

ABBY+FULLENKAMP%0AFreshman+guard+David+Jenkins+Jr.+%285%29+blows+past+his+defender+in+Thursday%E2%80%99s+game+against+USD.+The+Jacks+have+finished+conference+play+and+will+begin+Summit+League+tournament+play+against+WIU+at+6+p.m.+March+3rd+at+the+Denny+Sanford+Premier+Center.
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Men cruise into tournament as top team

ABBY FULLENKAMP
Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. (5) blows past his defender in Thursday’s game against USD. The Jacks have finished conference play and will begin Summit League tournament play against WIU at 6 p.m. March 3rd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. (5) blows past his defender in Thursday’s game against USD. The Jacks have finished conference play and will begin Summit League tournament play against WIU at 6 p.m. March 3rd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. (5) blows past his defender in Thursday’s game against USD. The Jacks have finished conference play and will begin Summit League tournament play against WIU at 6 p.m. March 3rd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. (5) blows past his defender in Thursday’s game against USD. The Jacks have finished conference play and will begin Summit League tournament play against WIU at 6 p.m. March 3rd at the Denny Sanford Premier Center.

Andrew Holtan

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The Summit League Tournament is finally here and the South Dakota State men’s basketball team is the No. 1 seed.

The Jacks will face the Western Illinois Leathernecks at 6 p.m. March 3 in the first round of the tournament at the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls.

The Jacks (25-6, 13-1) finished the regular season with wins over South Dakota and Fort Wayne and have won eight straight games. Senior forward Reed Tellinghuisen said the Jacks are playing well offensively because they are not relying on junior forward Mike Daum to do all the scoring.

“I think our guys are playing well right now. We’re shooting the ball very well and even when Mike [Daum] doesn’t have it going, we have enough weapons offensively to win the game,” Tellinghuisen said.

SDSU defeated Western Illinois in blowouts twice this season, outscoring them 180-132 in both meetings. Head coach T.J. Otzelberger said his team has to put all their focus on Western Illinois and not look ahead.

“We have a veteran team that knows how important it is,” Otzelberger said. “We’ve maintained that focus throughout the course of the season, especially towards the end of conference play. So I feel good about our guys and think they know that this Western Illinois team can beat anybody and we’re going to need to play our best come Saturday.”

Tellinghuisen said the veteran players on the team gave freshman guard David Jenkins Jr. and junior guard Brandon Key advice on how to handle the tournament environment since they have not participated in it.

“You can’t get caught up in the moment. There’s going to be a bunch of fans and I think you have to take it play by play and let the game come to you,” Tellinghuisen said.

The top two seeds in the tournament play March 3 and get a day off if they advance to the semifinals. Last season, the Jacks were the No. 4 seed and did not get a day off between their quarterfinal and semifinal game.

“That’s a huge advantage,” Tellinghuisen said. “Especially if you end up making it to the championship. I remember last year thinking ‘man my body is worn down’. So getting that rest is important.”

The Leathernecks (12-15, 3-11) are led by freshman guard Kobe Webster who is averaging 16.3 points per game. Junior center Brandon Gilbeck is averaging 10.7 points per game and 7.1 rebounds, which is fourth best in the Summit League.

Junior guard Tevin King has become one of the best players for SDSU. He is averaging 9.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and three assists per game, which are all career-highs. Otzelberger said he is having a great season because of his work ethic.

“Nobody works harder than Tevin King,” Otzelberger said. “Nobody loves the games and has the passion the extent that he does. We’re counting on him in so many ways. To run our team, to score the ball, to rebound the ball, to get assists, so we’re really fortunate that he has the character and determination to step up night in and night out.”

Senior Lane Severyn scored a career-high 14 points and eight rebounds Feb. 22 against South Dakota.

“With our team, the nice thing is we have so many guys playing at a high level that anybody can step-up and have a bigger role,” Otzelberger said.

For the first time in Summit League Tournament history, both schools from South Dakota are the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

If the two teams were to face this year, it would have to be in the championship.

“It’d be a packed house and a crazy atmosphere if we both make it to the championship and that’d be awesome,” Tellinghuisen said.

The winner of SDSU and WIU will face the winner of North Dakota State and Fort Wayne at 6 p.m. March 5 in Sioux Falls.

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Men cruise into tournament as top team