Ball State (4-4) at South Dakota (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 15, 8 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Dakotadome (10,000) -- Vermillion, South Dakota. Television: None. Home Record: Ball St. 4-2, South Dakota 3-1. Away Record: Ball St. 0-2, South Dakota 0-4. Neutral Record: Ball St. 0-0, South Dakota 1-1. Conference Record: Ball St. 0-0, South Dakota 1-1. Series Record: Ball State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: Two teams close out a back-to-back home-and-home series on Saturday, when the South Dakota Coyotes welcome the Ball State Cardinals to the Dakotadome.
These two teams met for the first time ever last weekend in Muncie, a game won by Ball State, 62-51.
The win for the Cardinals was the second straight for the team and has put some distance between Ball State and a four-game slide between Nov. 20 and Dec. 1. Ball State will travel to Purdue following this contest.
Meanwhile, the Coyotes are two games under .500 at 4-6, having lost two straight and three of its last four games. South Dakota will close out a brief two-game homestand next week against Morehead State.
Powered by a strong rebounding effort last week, the Cardinals were able to keep the Coyotes at bay and earn an 11-point win at home. Ball State held a 48-30 advantage on the boards, behind the strong interior play of both Chris Bond and Majok Majok. Bond finished the game with a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, while Majok just missed his own double-double, tallying nine points and 16 boards. Jauwan Scaife led the team offensively, with 14 points, while Marcus Posley added 12 off the bench.
The Cardinals .500 record can be attributed to the lack of consistency at the offensive end. The team is shooting a rather bland 40.2 percent from the floor overall, a number hampered by an ugly 25.2 percent from 3-point range. Still, there is some scoring depth, as three of the five starters are averaging double figures. Majok has been a force in the middle, pacing the team in both scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (10.9 rpg). Jesse Berry and Scaife provide other offensive options at 12.1 and 10.3 ppg, respectively.
South Dakota obviously struggled with Ball State's efficiency on the boards, but also hampered itself with a poor shooting performance last time out, converting just 33.9 percent from the floor overall, including an anemic 16.0 percent from behind the arc (4-of-25). Steve Tecker led the Coyotes in scoring with 15 points off the bench. Trevor Gruis was right behind with 14 points, while grabbing eight rebounds and blocking three shots.
South Dakota is sporting a -3.4 scoring margin, certainly a key to the team's sub par record thus far. Like the Cardinals, the Coyotes boast of three double-digit scorers among the starting five. Juevol Myles leads the team with 13.7 ppg, despite shooting just .363 from the floor. Gruis is performing much more efficiently at a .538 clip, averaging 12.0 ppg, while leading the team on the boards (6.8 rpg). Karim Rowson (11.2 ppg) rounds out the top options.
Ball State was able to impose its will on the boards a week ago in Muncie, and little should change in the short turnaround. Majok dominated then and will do so again, leading the Cardinals to the sweep of the Coyotes.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ball State 64, South Dakota 55
12/15 10:37:54 ET