South Dakota State dominates USDBROOKINGS — In the teams’ first meeting in nearly eight years, the South Dakota State University men’s basketball team jumped all over South Dakota in front of a capacity crowd at Frost Arena on Thursday night. The Jackrabbits raced out to a 17-4 lead and never looked back in an 86-56 drubbing of the Coyotes.
By: SEAN WELSH, The Brookings Register
BROOKINGS — In the teams’ first meeting in nearly eight years, the South Dakota State University men’s basketball team jumped all over South Dakota in front of a capacity crowd at Frost Arena on Thursday night.
The Jackrabbits raced out to a 17-4 lead and never looked back in an 86-56 drubbing of the Coyotes.
“It was definitely a big factor in the game,” Jackrabbit senior Griffan Callahan said of the fast start. “The fans really helped out. We came out and got a really good jump on them.”
SDSU led by as many as 30 in the opening half, taking a 50-21 lead into intermission. The Jacks shot 52.9 percent (18-of-34) from the field while holding the Yotes to 24.1 percent (7-of-29).
“Obviously, we played good in the first half and it was kind of anticlimactic after that,” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy, whose team improved to 14-5 overall and 6-1 in Summit League play.
The Jackrabbits certainly had the mindset of a championship team against the Coyotes (6-10, 1-6), who are in their final season of Division I transition.
“I think we got off to a really good start, which helped us,” SDSU point guard Nate Wolters added. “They didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half and we kind of fed off that in transition.”
Wolters led the charge over the opening 20 minutes, scoring 11 points while adding five rebounds, four assists and a pair of steals.
Callahan also had 13 of his game-high 20 points in the opening half.
Tony Fiegen had a tip-in and Callahan added a 3-pointer to get the Jacks going with an early 5-0 lead. Five players scored during the game’s opening run that left SDSU up 17-4 with 14:34 to play.
SDSU tacked on a 12-0 run soon thereafter, making with 35-11 with 6:25 remaining. Brayden Carlson sandwiched 3-pointers around Wolters’ steal and two-handed breakaway dunk; and Wolters and Callahan had back-to-back buckets in the paint, and the rout was on.
The lead twice reached 30 in the first half before peaking at 37 — 80-43 — with 6:09 remaining in the game.
“It was a lot of fun; the crowd was great,” added Fiegen, who finished with 10 points. “You could feel the energy in the building.
“To get off to a good start like that, it was fun; it was really fun.”
Wolters finished the game with 13 points, six rebounds and five assists while playing just 29 minutes. Jordan Dykstra added nine points and eight rebounds; and Carlson had nine points, four boards and four assists.
The Jacks shot 47.7 percent (31-of-65) from the field and went 15-of-16 from the free-throw line. They also committed seven turnovers, while forcing 15, and held a 42-39 rebounding edge. USD finished at 32.2 percent (19-of-59).
“They were really good,” South Dakota head coach Dave Boots said. “They dominated us every way you can dominate a basketball team. They shot it really well; they were competitive defensively; they hurt us on the boards early in the game.
“We just did not do the job we needed to do, obviously; but all the credit in the world to the Jacks tonight.”
The Coyotes’ Louie Krogman, the state’s all-time scoring leader at the high school ranks and a 1,400-point scorer at USD, scored 15 points after being held to three in the opening half.
“It got out of hand pretty quickly,” he said. “I’m proud of our guys, though; I’m glad we kept fighting.
“You’ve got to give them credit, though. They came out, played good and they were ready for what we were going to throw at them.”
USD’s Trevor Gruis added 14 points and eight rebounds; and Ricardo Andreotti had seven points and 13 boards off the bench.
While both coaches downplayed the history of the rivalry game, Boots talked about its importance to the state.
“It’s so good for South Dakota basketball to have this game started again; there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “This is a fantastic thing for our state to get this game back, with both of us being in the same conference and all that.
“We’ve got to compete with them, that’s the bottom line. It’s not going to be a good rivalry if this is the product we’re going to bring up here and that’s the product they’re going to put out. We’ve got to change; we’re the ones that have got to get better.
“They have (gotten better); they’ve gone and completed that process (and) we haven’t.
“I’m glad the game got started again. I thought it was an important thing to play this game and get the two schools involved — fantastic crowd, great sportsmanship through it all.”
Nagy said he tried to keep things as simple as possible pertaining to the rivalry.
“The reason the game is important is because we want to win a conference championship,” he added. “You need to win home games, No. 1, to do that. And that’s why it was important, not because it was the USD-SDSU rivalry.
“So we tried to maintain that focus and I thought our kids did a great job. We really good defensively in the first half, particularly (on Westbrook and Krogman) — they’re really good offensively players and the first half we did a really good job on them and that’s probably what helped us.
“When we’re good defensively, then we’re generally good offensively.”
South Dakota State and South Dakota face off again on Feb. 9 at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
NOTES: Wolters moved from 17th to 14th on SDSU’s all-time scoring list with 1,286 career points. … The sellout crowd was 6,216 people, which set a Division-I high for SDSU.