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Summit Men: USD-UNO Preview

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There’s good news and bad news for the University of South Dakota men’s basketball team as they begin the second half of the Summit League regular season tonight hosting Omaha at the DakotaDome.

On the plus side, the Coyotes are in sole possession of fourth place after eight conference games with four wins and four losses.  They have the top scoring offense in Summit League games (80 points per game) and are the second best free throw shooting team in the nation (79%) behind Davidson.  The trail only North Dakota State for made three-pointers (68) and three-point percentage (50%) in conference games.

Individually, USD has two top ten Summit League scorers (Juevol Myles – 17 per game and Brandon Bos – 15 per game), and two of the four best three-point shooters (Casey Kasperbauer – 60% and  Bos – 49%).

On the down side, Dave Boots’ teams has struggled at times with consistency.  USD has won back-to-back games just once this season, and that came back around Thanksgiving.

This team even runs hot and cold from half to half in a game.  At home  in November, the Coyotes shot 27% in the first half, but a blistering 64% in the second half in a loss to Western Illinois.  Two nights later in Vermillion, USD came out hot, shooting 68% in the first half, but a cool 39% in the second half in a win against IUPUI.

The very next Summit League home stand it was the same story.  The Coyotes hit just 38% in the first half, but 54% in the second half in a loss against North Dakota State, then two nights later it was a 55% first half, but 32% second half in an upset win over South Dakota State.

The Coyotes are actually doing more with less so far this Summit League season.  USD is averaging eight fewer shot attempts per game compared to their opponents.

Tonight’s game against Omaha will be anything but normal for the Coyotes.  All of the Coyote players have been living in various motels around Vermillion this week after a water main break forced them from their dorm.

The Mavericks come in looking for their first road win in nearly a year.  UNO’s last victory away from Omaha came February 2nd of last year.  Since then Derrin Hansen’s team is 0-12 on the road.

Omaha is led by Justin Simmons, who is in the top ten among Summit League scorers (15 points per game) and defenders (29 steals).

As a team, UNO has been lacking in three key areas: points allowed, rebounding, and turnovers. The Mavericks are last in the league with 86 points per game allowed, a Summit worst minus eight per game on the boards, and dead last with 15 turnovers per game.

One bright spot lately has been on the offensive end of the floor, where the Mavs are hitting 52% of their field goals over their last five games.  Unfortunately that hasn’t translated into wins, as they’ve gone 1-4 during that stretch.

The first meeting between these two teams this season was no contest, as USD won 95-72 in Omaha, December 29th.  The Coyotes scored the first seven points of the game and never looked back, leading by 23 after 20 minutes.  Brandon Bos had a career best 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting, added 10 rebounds for a double-double.  As a team, USD hit 11 three-pointers, including four from reserve Eric Robertson in just 10 minutes of playing time.

Defensively, the Coyotes held UNO’s two best players, Justin Simmons and Alex Phillips, to just two points in the first half, although Simmons did bounce back for 13 points in the second half.

Tip off is at 7:00pm tonight.

Other Summit League action tonight finds Western Illinois is at Ft. Wayne.  The Leathernecks are tied with North Dakota State at the top of the Summit League standings at 7-1.  Also tonight, 3-4 Oakland travels to 1-7 IUPUI.

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