Two teams having very different starts to the 2012-13 campaign do battle on Sunday afternoon, as the Coyotes of South Dakota challenge the 19th-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs.
South Dakota is 1-2 on the young season, having dropped its first two bouts against Southern University (83-79) and Wyoming (71-51) before posting a win over NC Central (81-69), with all games taking place in Laramie, Wyoming as part of the Global Sports Challenge. The Coyotes, who play their basketball out of the Summit League, will play their home opener next Friday against Culver-Stockton.
Gonzaga has won both of its games thus far, whipping Southwest Utah (103-65) and West Virginia (84-50). The Bulldogs, who are the favorites to win the West Coast Conference title yet again, are wrapping up a three-game homestand to open the season, and they'll head to Florida next to take part in the Old Spice Classic.
This bout marks the first meeting between South Dakota and Gonzaga on the basketball court.
South Dakota's rookies were instrumental in the team picking up its first win of the season, as Tyler Flack scored 21 points and Casey Kasperbauer chipped in a dozen to push the Coyotes past NC Central on Friday. Trailing 35-30 at the break, USD got hot and shot 67 percent from the field and nailed seven of its 10 three-pointers in the second half. Other standouts for the club included Juevol Myles (13 points, six assists, five rebounds) and Karim Rowson (13 points, six boards), and the team as a whole made good on 50.9 percent of its total shots while holding NCCU to 41.7 percent, which included a dismal 4- of-21 effort from three-point range. All five starters for South Dakota are averaging double digits in the scoring column, with 6-foot-10 center Trevor Gruis standing tallest at 12.3 ppg, to go with his team-high 6.3 rpg. Gruis is the lone returning starter from last year's team that went 10-18 overall and 5-13 in conference.
Gonzaga got it done at both ends of the court in the rout of West Virginia, as the team shot 52.0 percent from the floor, which included a 9-of-16 showing from three-point range, while holding the Mountaineers to 27.3 percent field goal efficiency, and the visitors missed 23 of their 26 long-range bombs. WVU committed 20 turnovers and had only eight assists in the game. Gonzaga got 15 points from Gary Bell, Jr., 14 from Guy Landry Edi, 13 from Kevin Pangos, 11 from Elias Harris and 10 from Mike Hart in what was a dominant and well- balanced attack. The one negative was that the Zags converted just 23-of-36 free throws (.563). Landry Edi is averaging 15.0 ppg in leading all five starters in double figures, and his 7.0 rpg is tied with Harris for the team lead in that category.