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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Thursday, February 27, 8 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Frost Arena (8,500) -- Brookings, South Dakota. Television: MidcoSN, FCS. Home Record: Denver 9-4, South Dakota State 9-3. Away Record: Denver 5-6, South Dakota State 7-7. Neutral Record: Denver 1-2, South Dakota State 0-1. Conference Record: Denver 8-4, South Dakota State 8-4. Series Record: South Dakota State leads, 5-4.
GAME NOTES: The Denver Pioneers will try to extend a three-game win streak and break a conference tie as they travel to face the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in a Summit League battle at Frost Arena.
Denver has won three games in a row and five of its last six outings, including a 72-60 defeat of Nebraska Omaha in conference play on Saturday. The Pioneers share an identical 8-4 conference record with South Dakota State entering this matchup.
South Dakota State had a six-game win streak broken up on Saturday with a tough 74-59 loss to conference leader North Dakota State. With two games left on the regular season schedule, the Jackrabbits will do everything they can to earn one of the top seeds in the conference tournament.
South Dakota State holds a very slim 5-4 lead in the all-time series with Denver. The Jackrabbits got the best of the Pioneers earlier this season with a thrilling 74-73 victory in Denver.
The Pioneers have been hot at the right time as they finish up the regular season and make some headway in conference play. Four Denver players scored in double figures on Saturday to propel the team to a double-digit win over Omaha. Cam Griffin scored a team-high 14 points, and Chris Udofia tallied a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Marcus Byrd came off the bench to score 12 points of his own, and Nate Engesser chipped in with 11 points in the victory.
Brett Olson, who tallied eight points in Saturday's win, leads the Pioneers in scoring this season with 14.7 ppg on 47.5 percent shooting from the floor. His 3.5 apg average is second on the squad behind Udofia's 4 apg mark, and Olson's 31 steals are good for third on Denver. Udofia chips in 13 ppg, 67 blocked shots and 43 steals to lead the team. Griffin tops the Pioneers roster with 6 rpg.
South Dakota State had a rough first half against rival North Dakota State. The Jackrabbits hit on just 28 percent of their field-goal tries in the period, and found themselves down at the intermission, 33-18. The Bison were able to coast through the second half for the win. Cody Larson led SDSU in scoring in the contest with 11 points, while Jordan Dykstra and Brayden Carlson each chipped in with 10. Carlson added a team-high five assists and Dykstra pulled down six rebounds.
South Dakota State's success this season stems from a solid team effort all the way through the first 27 games played. Dykstra leads the team with 16.2 ppg on 45.3 percent shooting from the field, adding a team-high 7.6 rpg average. Carlson is second in scoring with 14.8 ppg with a team-best 76 assists on the year. Larson checks in at third with 13.3 ppg, 7 rpg and a team-best 30 blocked shots.
After a slow start to the season and a rocky first half of conference play, the Pioneers have righted the ship. But South Dakota State has a deep roster and a well-rounded lineup, and playing in Brookings is something not many teams have enjoyed this season (SDSU has a 9-3 record at home). The edge in this one will go to the Jackrabbits.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota State 76, Denver 71
02/27 10:53:37 ET
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