Western Illinois (3-3) at South Dakota (3-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, November 29, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The DakotaDome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: Midco Sports Network. Home Record: Western Illinois 1-0, South Dakota 2-0. Away Record: Western Illinois 0-3, South Dakota 0-2. Neutral Record: Western Illinois 2-0, South Dakota 1-1. Conference Record: Western Illinois 0-0, South Dakota 0-0. Series Record: Series tied, 2-2.
GAME NOTES: The South Dakota Coyotes are set to tip-off Summit League action on Thursday when they host the Western Illinois Leathernecks at The DakotaDome.
The Leathernecks dropped a 39-38 decision to Savannah State their last time out, which makes their record 3-3 entering conference action. Western Illinois has alternated wins and losses so far this season. Coach Jim Molinari's team got off to a slow start versus Savannah State and trailed 20-4 early in the first half. Western Illinois managed to fight back to make it a one-point game with seconds remaining in regulation. The rally came up just short as Don McAvoy III's last-second attempt fell short.
South Dakota is riding a two-game winning streak after a pair wins over NAIA programs, Culver-Stockton (81-73) and Waldorf (84-59). The victories brought the Coyotes up to the .500 mark with a 3-3 record. Coach Dave Boots has had tremendous success with the program with only one losing season in his previous 24 seasons at the school. However, only four of those seasons were at the Division I level. This will be just the second season for South Dakota as a member of the Summit League.
The all-time series between these conference rivals is tied, 2-2. However, South Dakota's two wins in the rivalry came in 1969 and 1970. The Leathernecks won both meetings last season by scores of 67-44 and 47-45.
The Leathernecks' offensive production has been dictating their wins and losses. In the wins, Western Illinois is averaging 65.7 ppg, but it is netting only 44 ppg in the three losses. Senior center Terell Parks is leading the team with 13 points and 8.2 rebounds per outing. Parks was named 2012 Summit League Honorable Mention and to the league's All-Newcomer team last season. Senior guard Ceola Clark III is second on the team with 11.2 ppg while ranking in the top 10 in seven of the league's statistical categories, including minutes per game (34.2), steals (11), and assists (20).
South Dakota was able to surpass the 80-point mark in its last two games versus NAIA schools, but it only accomplished that feat once in its first four games versus Division I competition. The Coyotes were demolished in their two road games at Wyoming (71-51) and Gonzaga (96-58), but they played much better at a neutral site in Laramie, Wyoming. The team defeated North Carolina Central, 81-69, behind a breakout performance from true freshman Tyler Flack, who scored 21 points. Flack is second on the team and one of four Coyotes scoring in double figures. Kansas State transfer Juevol Myles is pacing the squad with 13.2 points, 4.2 assists, and 2.1 steals per game.
This new Summit League rivalry should be interesting with Myles added into the mix. He will give Clark a challenge early on in league play. South Dakota will need another big performance from Flack as the team lacks consistent scoring. Western Illinois also will have to locate a consistent scorer to aid Parks.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 57, South Dakota 53
11/29 10:37:45 ET