South Dakota State (18-6) at IUPU-Fort Wayne (10-14)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 7, 7 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Coliseum (13,000) -- Fort Wayne, Indiana. Television: None. Home Record: SDSU 11-0, IPFW 8-2. Away Record: SDSU 5-6, IPFW 1-11. Neutral Record: SDSU 2-0, IPFW 1-1. Conference Record: SDSU 9-2, IPFW 3-7. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 9-8.
GAME NOTES: The South Dakota State Jackrabbits hope to continue their run atop the Summit League standings on Thursday night, as they travel to War Memorial Coliseum for a showdown with the IUPU-Fort Wayne Mastodons.
SDSU is the hottest team in the Summit League, winning seven straight games dating back to Jan. 10 to climb into a three-way tie with Western Illinois and North Dakota State for first place with a 9-2 conference mark. The Jackrabbits most recently downed UMKC at home last Saturday by a convincing 88-57 margin to improve to 18-6 overall.
Meanwhile, IPFW has been below average this season, both overall (10-14) and in league play (3-7). The Mastodons dropped a road tilt with Nebraska Omaha on Jan. 31, 86-79, but the good news is that they now return home where they've gone an impressive 8-2 this year.
SDSU has swept the season series with IPFW in each of the past two seasons to take a 9-8 advantage over the Mastodons all-time.
The Jackrabbits opened up a 20-point lead over UMKC and never looked back, shooting 47.4 percent from the field while also helping themselves at the foul line (24-of-29). Pacing five guys in double figure was Nate Wolters with 18 points to go along with six assists, five rebounds and three steals. Jordan Dykstra added 16 points and nine boards, Zach Horstman chipped in 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting off the bench, and Chad White and Brayden Carlson netted 12 and 11 points, respectively. On the season, Wolters has put himself in elite territory with 20.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg and 5.6 apg, and if he can keep it up for the rest of the year, he'll become the first player ever to average 20 points, five assists and five rebounds in two separate season since the NCAA began keeping assists as an official statistic in 1983. Dykstra tallies 13.0 ppg and 7.1 rpg, and Tony Fiegen chips in 10.5 ppg and 5.6 rpg while shooting better than 58 percent from the field. SDSU is the third-highest scoring team in the Summit League with 72.6 ppg.
IPFW held a five-point halftime lead at Omaha in its latest bout, but it lost control of the contest after halftime en route to the seven-point setback. It was a modest shooting day from the field (.422) and the foul line (.760) for the Mastodons, but they had no answer for the red-hot Mavericks, who made greater than 62 percent of their field goal attempts. Frank Gaines tied a career-high in the setback with 32 points, while also tallying nine rebounds and three steals. Luis Jacobo netted 16 points on 4-of-8 from 3-point range, while Michael Kibiloski had 12 points. IPFW has been perfectly mediocre on the season, scoring nearly as many points per game (65.4) as it allows (65.3). Gaines is the league's third-leading scorer at 19.0 ppg, and he does a large portion of his damage from the free-throw line. He has made 142-of-186 from the stripe, which are both tops in Division I. Jacobo brings 10.9 ppg to the mix on 46-of-119 from beyond the arc (.387).
Despite IPFW's disappointing season, it has played very well on its home court, meaning this may not be as one-sided an affair as it may seem. Still, SDSU is playing its best basketball of the season, and it should be able to find a way to add to its win total here.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 72, IUPU-Fort Wayne 67
02/07 10:36:01 ET