South Dakota State (10-4) at North Dakota State (10-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 29, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bison Sports Arena (6,000) -- Fargo, North Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: SDSU 6-0, NDSU 5-0. Away Record: SDSU 2-4, NDSU 3-3. Neutral Record: SDSU 2-0, NDSU 2-0. Conference Record: SDSU 1-0, NDSU 1-0. Series Record: North Dakota State leads, 108-96.
GAME NOTES: Two of the three members of the Summit League without a loss in conference play will square off on Saturday when the South Dakota State Jackrabbits tangle with North Dakota State at Bison Sports Arena.
The Jackrabbits pulled off a big upset of the previously unbeaten New Mexico Lobos their last time out to earn their fourth win in five games and improve their record to 10-4. South Dakota State is also 1-0 in conference play thanks to its 78-63 victory over Nebraska Omaha on Dec. 1. Coach Scott Nagy's team is outscoring its opposition by an average of 4.8 points per contest despite its difficult non-conference slate that included bouts with Alabama, Marshall, Minnesota, Belmont, and Montana.
The Bison have also been impressive early on as their 69-49 rout of Morehead State on Dec. 21 sharpened their record to 10-3, which includes a 95-51 rout of Nebraska Omaha in their only league game. Coach Saul Phillips has yet to see his team drop a decision in five home outings and its three losses came against formidable opponents in Indiana, Green Bay, and Minnesota. NDSU is playing well on both ends of the floor with a scoring offense average of 70.7 ppg to a much lower scoring defense mark of 57.1 ppg.
This will be the 205th meeting in history between these schools on the hardwood. SDSU snapped a 10-game losing slide in the series with a 91-88 victory in an overtime thriller on Jan. 21, 2012, but the Bison still hold a 108-96 all-time series lead.
Senior point guard Nate Wolters played with an injured ankle at New Mexico, but he still managed to pace the Jackrabbits with 28 points and seven assists to help his squad bounce back from a road loss to Belmont. Wolters is filling up the stat sheet consistently with averages of 20 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per outing. Jordan Dykstra, who registered a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds against the Lobos, is SDSU's second leading scorer (12.9 ppg) and top rebounder (6.9 rpg). Tony Fiegen is also getting involved consistently with 10.1 points and 6.5 boards per game.
NDSU rode Marshall Bjorklund's season-high 20 points to an easy win over Morehead State last time out. Bjorklund went 8-of-8 from the field and also pulled down a game-high nine boards, while Taylor Braun (19 points, seven rebounds) and Lawrence Alexander (12 points, five assists) provided scoring support. Braun is pacing the team with 15.6 ppg and Bjorklund is adding 11.8 ppg on 67 percent shooting from the floor. Alexander is also carrying a double-digit scoring average with 10 points a game and Mike Felt is keeping the floor spread out with his 3-point shooting ability (team-high 33 made 3PT).
This could be a preview of the Summit League Championship this season as both sides are capable of winning the conference. Wolters and company were impressive in their upset of New Mexico, but their return to league play will require another strong showing.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: North Dakota State 74, South Dakota State 70
12/29 10:31:55 ET