Morehead State (5-5) at South Dakota (4-7)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Wednesday, December 19, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: MidCo Sports Network. Home Record: Morehead State 4-1, South Dakota 3-2. Away Record: Morehead State 0-4, South Dakota 0-4. Neutral Record: Morehead State 1-0, South Dakota 1-1. Conference Record: Morehead State 0-0, South Dakota 1-1. Series Record: South Dakota leads, 2-1.
GAMES NOTES: The South Dakota Coyotes will try to put an end to a losing streak on Wednesday night when the Morehead State Eagles come to the DakotaDome for a non-conference bout.
The Eagles snapped their own three-game losing streak last time out with a 71-63 victory at home against Indiana State. The victory evened Morehead State's overall record this season at 5-5. The wins have mostly come at home with the Eagles winless in four true road games this year. Morehead State won't have to go far for its next opponent, as the team matches up with North Dakota State on Friday.
For the Coyotes an 80-73 loss at home to Ball State on Saturday gave South Dakota its third straight loss. Two of those defeats came against Ball State with the other on the road against Iowa. After the recent loss South Dakota is now just 4-7 overall, including a 3-2 mark at home. A three-game road trip is on tap for the Coyotes following this matchup beginning against Green Bay.
These teams also met last season in a thriller at Morehead State. Charlie Westbrook knocked down a 3-pointer with 28 seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in a 57-56 victory for South Dakota. With the win the Coyotes have earned victories in two of three all-time matchups.
Morehead State led by as many as 13 points in the second half against Indiana State but had its lead cut to just two points (59-57) with a little less than three minutes remaining. From there a 3-pointer from Angelo Warner gave the Eagles some separation as did the squads 8-of-10 effort from the free throw line in the final minute. Warner and Milton Chavis each paced the Eagles with 15 points.
As a team, Morehead State is scoring at a healthy 70.6 points per game rate despite connecting on a meager 42.7 percent of its field goal attempts. The Eagles are a strong rebounding squad, ranking second in the Ohio Valley Conference on the boards (39.5 pg). On defense the Eagles are letting up 68.1 points per game on 42.2 percent shooting. The Eagles have been very adept at creating turnovers as they rank ninth in the country in steals per game (10.5) but that aggression has also hurt them with the team committing the most fouls (25.9 pg) in the nation. Chavis (14.3 ppg, 4.2 rpg) has been the only consistent offensive threat for the Eagles although he had scored just six total points in the two games before playing Indiana State. Warner (9.0 ppg) is the second leading scorer on the roster but has seen his usage increase of late, playing at least 23 minutes and scoring in double figures in three straight games. Kahlil Owens (6.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg) doesn't add a ton in scoring but is the team's best player on the glass.
Despite trailing for the majority of the contest, South Dakota managed to knot the score 54-54 late in the game against Ball State. However after that the Cardinals went on a 15-8 run and would go on to lead by as many as 10 points in the final minute. South Dakota shot just 40.0 percent in the game mainly dragged down by a 7-of-24 effort in the first half. Juevol Myles scored 24 points, 15 of which came from the free-throw line.
South Dakota is scoring at a similar rate to the Eagles by putting in 70.9 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting. Points from the free-throw line have also aided the offensive effort with the Coyotes eighth in the nation in free throw percentage (77.9). The Coyotes don't have the same type of efforts on the boards though (33.3 rpg) and have been lit up for 74.6 points per game with teams connecting on 44.3 percent of their field goal attempts. Myles (14.6 ppg, 3.9 apg) has the ability to erupt on the offensive end as he has scored more than 20 points four times. However the former Kansas State recruit shoots at just a 36.9 percent clip. That type of erratic shooting led Myles to score just 11 points on 3-of-21 shooting in the two games before the second loss to Ball State. Trevor Gruis (11.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg) powers the team in the frontcourt along with Tyler Flack (7.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg). Gruis has been efficient enough around the rim, connecting on 54.3 percent of his shots. Karim Rowson (11.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg) can score and rebounds well from the backcourt.
Despite having the advantage on defense and on the boards, Morehead State just hasn't looked up to task on the road this season. South Dakota's efficient shooting from the free-throw line could also hurt the Eagles' chances if they are unable to play more disciplined.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota 71, Morehead State 67
12/19 10:40:59 ET