South Dakota (6-8) at (25) Kansas State (10-2)
Monday, December 31, 2 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528) -- Manhattan, Kansas. Television: None. Home Record: South Dakota 4-2, KSU 6-0. Away Record: South Dakota 1-5, KSU 1-0. Neutral Record: South Dakota 1-1, KSU 3-2. Conference Record: South Dakota 2-1, KSU 0-0. Series Record: Kansas State leads, 7-0.
GAME NOTES: The Kansas State Wildcats continue their three-game homestand on Monday afternoon, as they try to stay perfect at Bramlage Coliseum this season in a bout with the South Dakota Coyotes.
South Dakota's 6-8 record is far from impressive, but it has been able to make some noise in the early part of its Summit League schedule, defeating IUPUI (88-68), and most recently Nebraska Omaha (95-72) to move to 2-1 in conference. The Coyotes haven't had any success against non-league foes on the road however, losing all five contests.
Kansas State's impressive start to the season has reached new heights of late, as the team faced nationally-ranked Florida on a neutral floor on Dec. 22 and came away with a 67-61 triumph, which allowed it to jump into the Top-25. The Wildcats followed up that win up with a 52-44 decision over UMKC on Saturday for their third straight victory.
The Wildcats have never lost to the Coyotes in seven previous meetings.
The Coyotes traveled to Omaha on Saturday and they were up to the challenge, putting together their most dominant performance of the year in a 33-point win. They shot a lofty 57.6 percent from the floor in the win, which included an 11-of-21 night from 3-point range. Brandon Bos had a career night with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Eric Robertson (15 points) and Casey Kasperbauer (14 points) combined to shoot 8-of-10 from beyond the arc, and Trevor Gruis also chipped in 15 points. The offensive outburst was far from the norm for South Dakota, but it still posts solid numbers on the season, shooting 44.2 percent from the floor for 72.5 ppg. The only problem is it allows opponents to net an average of 74.3 ppg. Juevol Myles is the team's leading scorer with 15.3 ppg and he hands out 3.5 apg as well. Gruis (11.7 ppg) and Karim Rowson (10.9 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for the Coyotes.
Kansas State's latest game against UMKC was a defensive struggle throughout, as neither team shot better than 33.3 percent from the field, but the Wildcats were able to lead the game wire-to-wire by outshooting the Kangaroos from the foul line (16-8) and by turning the ball over just 11 times. Rodney McGruder has seen better days from the floor (7-of-17), but he still finished with a game-high 17 points while also adding four steals. Thomas Gipson tacked on 13 points, and Nino Williams finished with eight points and 13 rebounds. K-State is usually a rather modest scoring team (.414 FG percentage, 69.5 ppg), but the key to its success has been its defensive presence, holding teams to just 38.8 percent from the floor for an average of only 56.6 ppg. McGruder nets 13.6 ppg, and Angel Rodriguez puts up 10.1 ppg and more than four assists per contest, although he missed the UMKC matchup. Gipson (8.3 ppg) grabs 6.8 rpg for a team that outrebounds its opponents by more than eight boards per outing on average.
The Wildcats offense sputtered a bit without their starting point guard in their latest win, but the effort at the defensive end was still ever present, and that will be more than enough to dismiss an inconsistent South Dakota squad.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kansas State 65, South Dakota 52
12/31 10:31:42 ET