The Summit League Championships roll on for No 2 seed South Dakota State after a convincing win over IUPUI in the quarterfinals, setting up a semifinal matchup against No. 6 seed Southern Utah, who downed Oakland in their quarterfinal game on Sunday in dramatic fashion. The Jackrabbits and Thunderbirds tipoff on Monday at 8:30 p.m.
The Jacks started hot an never let up on Saturday in a 77-56 win over IUPUI in The Summit League Championships quarterfinals at the Sioux Falls Arena in front of a sellout crowd of 6,614 mostly Jackrabbit fans.
SDSU jumped out to an early 13-4 lead, only to see IUPUI come right back with an 8-0 run to get within one point at 13-12 with 12 minutes and 21 seconds left in the first half.
The Jacks countered with a 7-0 spurt, part of a 14-4 run that pushed the Jackrabbit lead to double digits at 27-16 with 6:49 left in the half, before SDSU eventually went to halftime with a 40-28 lead, after Nate Wolters scored in the waning seconds of the half.
South Dakota State quickly pushed the lead to 16 points at the start of the second half, and never let the Jaguars get any closer than 13 points for the rest of the game, all while increasing the lead to a game-high mark of 21.
Wolters led four Jackrabbits in double figures with a game-high 22 points, and tied for game-high honors with seven rebounds and with six assists. He also tied a career-high with five steals. Brayden Carlson finished with 12 points, Tony Fiegen scored 11 points, with seven rebounds and a career-high four assists, while Taévaunn Prince added 10 points off the bench in the win.
SDSU finished the game 56.6 percent from the floor on 30-of-53 shooting, and held IUPUI to 43.4 percent from the floor on 23-of-43 shooting.
SDSU also won the rebounding battle 30-24, which resulted in 13 second chance points, compared to two from the Jags. SDSU only committed three fewer turnovers than IUPUI, 15-12, but scored 23 points off of turnovers, compared to just nine from IUPUI.
Ian Chiles led four Jaguars in double figures with 15 points. Sean Esposito added 11 points, while Alex Young and Stephen Thomas both added 10 points in the loss. Young did dish out six assists to tie with Wolters for game-high honors.
RABBITS ON THE RADIO - Originated from the AM 570 WNAX studios in Yankton, S.D., SDSU men's basketball games can be heard on a total of five stations throughout South Dakota on the Jackrabbit Sports Network.
- 570 AM - WNAX - Yankton
- 910 AM - KJJQ "The Ranch" - Brookings
- 1060 AM - KGFX - Pierre
- 950 AM KWAT or 96.9 FM KDLO - Watertown
- 99.5 FM - KRKI - Rapid City
Pierre, S.D., native Tyler Merriam takes over the play-by-play duties in 2011-12, replacing six-time winner of the South Dakota Associated Press Sportscaster of the Year and 1998 National Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association South Dakota Sportscaster of the Year, Steve Imming, who retired in 2011.
THE JACKRABBIT EXTRA ON GoJacks.com - Subscribers to the Jackrabbit Extra on GoJacks.com watch every Jackrabbit home game and select road games streaming live on the internet. In addition, subscribers can listen to every game, home and on the road, streaming live on the internet.
To learn more about the Jackrabbit Extra, or to subscribe, log onto GoJacks.com and click on "SIGN UP NOW"
THE JACKRABBIT INSIDER ON FOX - Fans of SDSU Athletics can get a weekly behind-the-scenes look at all 21 Jackrabbit varsity sports teams by tuning into "The Jackrabbit Insider."
Hosted by Tyler Merriam, the show airs on Sundays on KTTW FOX 17 at 10:30 p.m., and can also be seen on Fox Sports North at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays.
JACKS POST FIRST 20-WIN SEASON AT DIVISON I - The South Dakota State Men's Basketball team beat UMKC 75-62 on Feb. 11, for their 20th win of the season, and first at the Division I level. The program now boasts 20 seasons with at least 20 wins, nine of which came during the Scott Nagy era, with the last being a school-record 27 win season in 2003-04, the program's final season in Division II.
WOLTERS CLIMBS THE 1,000-POINT CLUB LADDER - Nate Wolters became the 42nd member of the SDSU 1,000-Point Club in a win over Sam Houston State on Nov. 22, and instantly began the climb up the all time list. Wolters enters tonight's game with 1,564 career points, good for fourth all-time at SDSU.
WOLTERS SETS SDSU JUNIOR SCORING RECORD - Already the SDSU sophomore scoring record holder, Nate Wolters added the junior scoring record to his list of accomplishments in the Jacks 75-64 win over IUPUI on Feb. 25. Wolters scored 635 points in 30 games, two games fewer than it took Chris White to score 633 points in 1990-91. He enters tonight's game with 657 so far this season.
WOLTERS CHASES ALL-TIME SCORING RECORD - Nate Wolters scored 907 points in his first two years as a Jackrabbit, including the SDSU sophomore record with 604 points. His SDSU junior record of 657 points this season gives him 1,564 career points, leaving him 368 points shy of the record of 1,931, set by Mark Tetzlaff from 1981-85.
MORE THAN JUST A SCORER - In addition to his scoring prowess, Nate Wolters continues his climb up the all-time assists charts at SDSU. His 188 assists as a sophomore last year represents the third best single-season total in SDSU history. He tied that mark in the win over IUPUI on Saturday, and needs six more for the second best single-season total. Adding to that, his 462 career assists rank third all-time at SDSU, putting him well on pace to break the all-time mark of 605 assists, set by Brian Norberg from 1995-99.
PERFECT AT HOME - The Jackrabbits closed their third perfect season at home with a 75-64 win over IUPUI on Feb. 25, for a perfect 14-0 mark at Frost Arena. The win also makes it 17 in a row for the Jacks at home. SDSU went a perfect 18-0 at home in 1984-85, and 17-0 in the 2002-03 season.
NOT JUST NATE - Nate Wolters leads the Jacks with 21.2 points per game and reached double figures in all 31 games he played in this season, but he gets plenty of help. In addition to Wolters' 30 games in double figures, the Jackrabbits combined for 81 double-figure performances this season in 32 games. At least four Jackrabbits scored 10 points in the same game 15 times this season, with four players reaching double figures nine times, five players reaching double figures five times and six players once.
DYKSTRA SETS SDSU THREE-POINT RECORD - Jordan Dykstra made his final two three-point attempts vs. Buffalo on Feb. 18, went 5-for-5 from beyond the arc against Western Illinois on Feb. 23, and made his first four three-point attempts vs. IUPUI in Feb. 25. That equals 11 consecutive three-pointers over a span of three games and a new SDSU record, breaking the old mark of nine in a row, set by Craig Jenkins over three games in 1986.
CALLAHAN FOR THREE - SDSU's lone senior Griffan Callahan entered the season with 88 career three-pointers and a season-high of 55, set last year as a junior. Callahan enters tonight's game with 72 threes this season for a career total of 160, good for fifth all-time at SDSU. In addition to the career total, Callahan hit a career-high seven three-pointers at Nebraska on Nov. 26, which ties him for third all-time at SDSU in a single game, something his older brother Garrett did twice.
JACKS BACK IN MID-MAJOR TOP-25 - After cracking the collegeinsider.com Mid Major Top-25 for the first time this season at No. 25 on Dec. 19., the Jacks moved up to No. 23 in the poll released on Dec. 26, and moved up to No. 21 in the Jan. 2 poll, but fell out of the poll to receiving votes in the next four polls. The Jacks climbed back into the poll on Feb. 6, at No. 22, only to fall out of the poll completely in the poll released on Feb. 13.
Dominating wins over North Dakota State and Buffalo got the Jacks back in the poll on Feb. 20, at No. 23, while wins over Western Illinois and IUPUI to end the regular season pushed the Jackrabbits to No. 21 in the poll released on Feb. 27.
IN THE MERRY OLD LAND OF OZ - The Jackrabbits beat major conference foes Iowa State in 2008 and Iowa in 2010, but neither the Big 12 Cyclones nor the Big Ten Hawkeyes entered those games with a 32 game non-conference winning streak at home or entered those seasons after making three-straight NCAA Tournament Appearances. The Pac 12's Washington Huskies brought both of those credential into their game with the Jackrabbits on Dec. 18, and while they still may make their four straight NCAA Tournament, the Jacks snapped the Huskies 32 game non-conference home winning streak with a convincing 92-73 win at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle, Wash.
Nate Wolters led the Jackrabbits with a season-high 34 points, adding five rebounds, seven assists and no turnovers. Four other Jackrabbits also scored in double figures, led by Griffan Callahan with 16 points. Chad White finished with 12 points, all of which came from beyond the three-point line, Jordan Dykstra added 11 and Tony Fiegen 10 points in the win.
A FIRST AT FROST - When ESPNU aired the Jackrabbits 86-65 win over Buffalo in the SEARS BracketBusters on Feb. 18; it marked the first-ever nationally televised game from Frost Arena.
NAGY NOTCHES 300th CAREER WIN - Already the most prolific coach in SDSU history, head coach Scott Nagy entered the 2011-12 season with 289 wins, just 11 shy of reaching the 300-win milestone, which he reached in the Jackrabbits 94-58 win over IPFW on Dec. 28. Nagy enters tonight's game with a 314-197 career record and a .614 winning percentage.
NAGY TEAMS WITH SAMARITANS FEET - Head coach Scott Nagy teamed up with Samaritan's Feet in each of the last three seasons to raise money and shoes for children around the world, including Haiti, and the cause really hits home for Nagy and his family, especially after a major earthquake shook the country on Jan. 12, 2010.
"My wife Jamie and I adopted our daughter Naika from Haiti, so we've seen first-hand the need for shoes there," Nagy said.
Nagy raised over $6,000 for the relief efforts in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake, and then took it to another level last season, when the entire Jackrabbit coaching staff coached in their bare feet against IPFW on Jan. 22, to raise money for shoes and shelters in Zimbabwe.
Nagy made it four years in a row this season when he coached barefoot in an 85-58 win over UMKC in Frost Arena on Jan. 14, and added a game on Feb. 18, when he coached in his bare feet in the Jacks nationally televised 86-65 win over Buffalo in the SEARS BracketBusters.
Jackrabbit fans can play their part again in 2012 by logging onto FirstGiving.com/fundraiser/coachnagy/barefoot and making a donation.
Southern Utah Thunderbirds (14-16, 8-10 Summit, 3-0 Neutral) - The No. 6 seeded Thunderbirds, who advanced to the semifinals with a thrilling come-from-behind win over No. 3 seed Oakland in the tournament quarterfinals on Sunday night. Down 81-70 with 3:12 to go it looked like the Thunderbirds' season would come to an end, but SUU closed the game with a 14-1 run to claim the win and advance to play the No. 2 seed Jackrabbits.
The T-birds entered the tournament riding a four game losing streak, and dropped six of their final seven games, including a 76-68 overtime game at Oakland on Feb. 15.
Jackson Stevenett leads four Thunderbirds who average in double figures with 14.5 points per game. He also leads the team with 5.8 rebounds per game and with 21 steals. Ramell Taylor adds 11.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, Damone Heuir averages 10.7 points and Matt Massey an even 10.0 points per game.
The Series vs. Southern Utah -The Jackrabbits lead the all-time series 8-2, with wins in each of the last seven games. Tonight's game marks the first-ever meeting between the two teams in the league tournament.
The First Meeting; at Southern Utah: Jan. 5, 2012 - CEDAR CITY, Utah - South Dakota State overcame a one-point halftime deficit and fought through 11 lead changes and eight ties to hang on for a 75-68 win at Southern Utah.
The Jacks and T-Birds went back-and-forth, with neither team taking a lead of more than four points until a pair of Chad White free throws put the Jacks up 61-55 with 6:32 left in the game. Before the Jacks could go up by six though, they needed to get the lead, which they got for good at the 10:30 mark of the second half on a Nate Wolters steal and layup.
From there, SDSU pushed its lead to as many as 10 points, and never let Southern Utah get any closer than five points, which it did not do until only eight seconds remained in the game.
Wolters finished a game-high 28 points, adding six assists and four each in rebounds and steals. White finished with 13 points off the bench, as the Jackrabbit bench outscored the T-Bird bench 18-8, despite playing just three players off the bench.
Jackson Stevenett led a pair of Thunderbirds in double figures with 25 points. Matt Massey added 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds to complete the game's only double-double.
The Second Meeting; at Oakland; Feb. 4, 2012 - South Dakota State battled through 12 ties and 12 lead changes, but a 31 point night by Nate Wolters and a six-point trip down the floor paved the way for a 66-56 win in the 40th Annual Pork Classic.
Trailing 38-36 after a Damon Heuir three-pointer with 12:31 to play, Griffan Callahan got fouled after a made three-point basket to put the Jacks up 39-38 with 12:05 on the clock. That gave the Jacks the ball with a chance to add to the lead, which Wolters did when he made a layup, and one, to put SDSU on top 42-38 with 11:51 left in the game.
The visiting Thunderbirds, who fall to an even 12-12 on the season overall and 7-7 in The Summit League, would get as close as two points at 45-43 with just over eight minutes left to play, but would never tie or regain the lead for the rest of the night.
"These are the kind of games that are like tournament games that you have to grind out at half court," head coach Scott Nagy said after the win, which gives the Jacks a 19-6 overall record and an 11-2 mark in league play. "They did the right thing by playing the way that they did. They turned it into a half court game and they're much more physical than us and they showed that by beating us up on the glass, which I'm not happy about."
Not happy because the Thunderbirds won the rebounding battle 33-21, including a 12-6 edge on the offensive glass, which led to 12 second chance points from the visitors, compared to six by the Jackrabbits.
The Jacks made up for that margin by finishing with a 16-5 advantage in bench points, nine of which came from Marcus Heemstra, who finished with a career-high nine points in 21 minutes. Chad White scored the Jacks other seven points off the bench. Along with Wolters' 31, only Callahan joined him in double figures with 10 points.
Ray Jones, Jr. scored 18 points to lead the T-birds. Ramell Taylor added 13 points and a game-high nine rebounds. Heuir and Matt Massey both finished with eight points in the loss.
Prior to the six-point trip down the floor, neither team led by more than three points in the game, as the first half alone featured 10 ties and four lead changes before the Jacks took a 28-25 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The first eight minutes of the second half looked exactly like the first half, with two more ties and eight more lead changes before the Jacks took control of the game on the six-point trip down the floor.
NEXT UP FOR THE JACKRABBITS - An SDSU win would pit the Jackrabbits against the winner of the Oral Roberts vs. Western Illinois semifinal game in The Summit League finals on Tuesday at 8 p.m. The No. 1 seed Golden Eagles and No. 4 seed Fighting Leathernecks meet on Monday at 6 p.m.