After two straight wins over mid-major opponents, the South Dakota State women’s basketball team returns to Brookings for a three-game homestand.
Capitalizing on home court advantage over the next three games will be crucial for the Jackrabbits. They will end nonconference play with two road games before picking up Summit League play with three more games away from Frost Arena — a stretch of more than three weeks without playing at home.
“We know Frost Arena is a special place,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “And we know our fans are going to be phenomenal here in these next few games so we just want to maximize our opportunities (to play at home).”
SDSU has already faced four of the CollegeInsider.com mid-major top 10, going 3-1 in those contests.
Drake will be the toughest mid-major test to date.
“Drake’s really good offensively and really balanced,” SDSU head coach Aaron Johnston said. “They have five or six different players that could score in double-figures on any given night … and they move the ball as well as anyone we’ve played this year.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs will look to cause problems with their defensive zone style.
“They’re not up forcing a ton of turnovers,” Johnston said. “They just disrupt you and make it hard to comfortable offensively. You really have to shoot the ball well against them.”
The Bulldogs are ranked No. 21 in the latest AP poll and hold the top spot in the mid-major rankings with an 8-1 record, their only loss coming to AP No. 1 Notre Dame.
Drake already owns a pair of wins against Summit League foes this season, defeating Western Illinois and South Dakota, and looks to make it three when it visits Brookings.
Tip is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8 in Frost Arena.
On paper, Oregon is the toughest team SDSU will have to face all season.
Head coach Kelly Graves has led his team to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances, but the goal is set even higher this season for the No. 3 team in the country.
Oregon has the weapons necessary to make a deep run into the postseason and will present a significant challenge to the Jackrabbits.
“This year it’s very realistic they could be a Final Four team,” Johnston said. “They have the kind of talent and experience.”
Sabrina Ionescu, the Ducks’ junior point guard, won the Nancy Lieberman Award as the top point guard in the country last season as a sophomore and is a triple-double threat each time she sees the court.
“She is so good … probably the best in the country and she’s earned that,” Johnston said. “She can shoot and get to the basket. She’s an exceptional passer and plays hard the entire game. You watch her and there’s never a play that she takes off or coasts because she gets a little tired.”
Ionescu holds the NCAA record for career triple-doubles (11) and is averaging 18 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.6 assists this season.
Sitting with a perfect 7-0 record, the Ducks will travel to play Michigan State Dec. 9 before making the trip to Brookings.
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12 in Frost Arena.
After starting its season 2-0, Savannah State has dropped four straight contests and sits with a 2-4 record with one game to play before a date with the Jacks.
“Record-wise they’re struggling a little bit,” Johnston said. “It will be a very different style of play (from the previous two games)… we’re going to have to make sure that after a quick turnaround we’re up and ready to play.”
SSU will look to get back on the right track in a Dec. 8 game against the University of Mississippi before traveling to Brookings.
Opening tip of the game is 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14.
Last Week’s Recap
Wisconsin – Green Bay
This regional rivalry had been dominated by the Phoenix who had won four consecutive games in the series.
SDSU reversed recent fortunes against Green Bay, controlling the game the whole way en route to a 77-47 win.
Tennessee – Chattanooga
A mid-week road trip to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga saw the Jacks win their second straight.
A quick start and stifling defense helped push SDSU to a 71-54 win despite committing 20 turnovers.