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South Dakota (8-9) at Western Illinois (7-11)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Thursday, January 23, 8 p.m. (ET)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Western Hall (5,139) -- Macomb, Illinois. Television: None. Home Record: USD 7-1, WIU 5-1. Away Record: USD 1-7, WIU 0-9. Neutral Record: USD 0-1, WIU 2-1. Conference Record: USD 3-0, WIU 1-2. Series Record: Western Illinois leads, 5-2

GAME NOTES: The streaking South Dakota Coyotes invade Western Hall on Thursday night for a Summit League showdown with the Western Illinois Leathernecks.

A 75-61 triumph over IUPU-Fort Wayne last Saturday was the fifth straight victory for the Coyotes, who have lifted themselves to 8-9 overall, while winning their first three games in league play. However, the winning streak contained only home contests. South Dakota is just 1-7 on the road, where it will again be this Saturday versus Nebraska-Omaha.

Western Illinois has been headed in the opposite direction of late, with losses in three of its last four bouts. The Leathernecks are back home after a brief two-game road swing, which should be helpful, considering they are 5-1 at Western Hall this season. They will host Denver next.

The Leathernecks have won five straight meetings with the Coyotes, running their lead in the all-time series to 5-2.

Karim Rowson scored a game-high 21 points and collected nine rebounds in South Dakota's win over IPFW. The Coyotes earned a 39-28 advantage on the boards, while forcing 15 turnovers and outscoring the Mastodons in the paint, 30-20.

It was an offensive eruption from Rowson against IPFW, as he is averaging only 4.4 ppg this season. He had netted 21 points combined over the previous six games. Brandon Bos (13.4 ppg) and Trevor Gruis (12.6 ppg, 6.5 rpg) are the more likely candidates to lead the way offensively, as the only two players averaging in double figures on the roster. Bos tallied 13 points against IPFW, but hit on just 6-of-15 attempts from the floor. Gruis had nine points on 4- of-9 shooting. Adam Thoseby (7.2 ppg) is shooting at just a 38.7 percent clip this season, but he tallied 11 points in last Saturday's win.

It was another slow offensive performance for Western Illinois when it faced North Dakota State last Saturday, a game in which the Leathernecks fell by a final score of 65-52. They connected on only 41.9 percent of their shots from the floor, although Michael Ochereobia netted a game-high 18 points.

The Leathernecks are last in the Summit League in scoring (61.5 ppg), despite shooting 45.6 percent from the floor. Grinding games out is the team's chosen method of operation, as they are also limiting opponents to 60.4 ppg and 40.4 percent shooting. Garret Covington (13.8 ppg) is the only player averaging in double figures for the squad, although he is connecting on just 39.3 percent of his field goal attempts. Adam Link (9.6 ppg) serves as the second option, doing so at a much more efficient rate from the floor (.585). Ochereobia (7.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg) leads the team on the glass.

If South Dakota is really going to contend for the Summit League crown, it needs to pick up some wins on the road. This contest presents one of the easier opportunities to do so, but the Leathernecks' blue-collar defensive style may shut the Coyotes down.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Western Illinois 65, South Dakota 60

01/23 10:20:48 ET

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