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Houston Baptist (12-20) vs. South Dakota (21-9)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 13t, 9:30 p.m. (et).

FACTS & STATS: Site: McKay Center (8,500) -- Orem, Utah. Television: None. Home Record: Houston Baptist 6-6, South Dakota 12-2. Away Record: Houston Baptist 4-12, South Dakota 6-6. Neutral Record: Houston Baptist 2-2, South Dakota 3-1. Conference Record: Houston Baptist 9-3, South Dakota 11-1. Series Record: South Dakota leads, 2-0.

GAME NOTES: An automatic bid to the Collegeinsider.com Tournament is on the line tonight as the Huskies of Houston Baptist challenge the South Dakota Coyotes in the first-annual Great West Conference Tournament Championship Game at the McKay Center in Orem, Utah.

South Dakota is cruising along with a 12-game win streak and victories in 15 of the last 16 outings overall. The squad took care of Texas-Pan American in the semifinals of this event on Friday with a 76-71 win, pushing the top seed into the first-ever tournament title game in the conference.

As for the second-seeded Huskies, a squad that is eight games under .500, they first defeated seventh-seeded Chicago State in the quarterfinals on Wednesday by a score of 80-77 and then topped sixth-seeded NJIT in a 74-64 final yesterday. Houston Baptist, which was a miserable 3-17 against non-conference competition this season, has won six of the last seven outings overall.

South Dakota won both of the regular-season meetings with the Huskies by double digits and the Coyotes now own a 2-0 advantage in the all-time series as a result.

Andrew Gonzalez led three players in double figures yesterday as he tallied a team-best 24 points in the victory over NJIT. Mile Dixon added 15 points and eight boards, followed by Wendell Preadom with 11 points and seven rebounds as the squad recorded a massive 44-25 rebounding advantage over the competition. Houston Baptist shot only 41.5 percent from the field in the contest and was guilty of 19 turnovers, compared to just 11 miscues for the opposition. Gonzalez, who was named the Great West Newcomer of the Year and made it onto the All-Newcomer Team along with teammate Preadom, leads the team in scoring with 18.9 ppg, although he's been shooting only 29.7 percent from three-point range (35-of-118) and that has dragged the entire team down to only 28.4 percent on the perimeter. The fact that Gonzalez has just 38 assists and a whopping 109 turnovers doesn't help matters either. The team as a whole has 199 more miscues than dishes over the course of 32 games. Preadom and Mario Flaherty are responsible for 13.6 and 13.5 ppg, respectively.

Except for Steve Smith who was limited to only two points in 16 minutes of action, every starter for the Coyotes hit for double digits on Friday, beginning with Jake Thomas with his 19 on 4-of-8 shooting behind the three- point line. Kendall Cutler accounted for 18 points and a team-best seven assists, followed by Roman Gentry with 13 points as he too sank four three- point shots. Tyler Cain manned the middle for the group as he logged 16 points, a game-high 17 rebounds and five blocked shots for a team that easily won the rebounding battle, 45-25, and held the opposition without a single offense board. Even though South Dakota dominated the glass yesterday, the team is actually losing the battle of the boards this season by 0.5 rpg. Cain is averaging a double-double for the group with his 15.1 points and 10.4 rebounds per outings, adding 89 blocked shots along the way, while Gentry (13.5 ppg) and Thomas (12.8 ppg) both have significant input towards the unit's 79.1 ppg this season.

Even though Houston Baptist has fared much better against conference teams this season than outside of the league, the Huskies have already shown that they cannot get by the Coyotes. Little will change this evening.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: South Dakota 78, Houston Baptist 62

03/13 10:30:47 ET