Feast on some news and notes from the South Dakota State basketball teams. I’m thinking this will become a regular segment the rest of the winter:
On Saturday, the SDSU men visit North Dakota. The formerly Fighting Sioux have just one NCAA Division I victory so far, but it was an impressive one over Summit League favorite North Dakota State.
RealTimeRPI.com has UND ranked 90 spots ahead of SDSU at the moment and predicts the hosts will prevail 82-72.
I’ll be in Grand Forks for the game with live coverage starting at 3:30 p.m.
When the Jacks hosted Wayne State on Wednesday night, three former Roosevelt High School classmates were in the two starting lineups: SDSU forward Cody Larson and Wildcats forward Jared Bartling and guard Adol Aluong.
Larson got the best of the matchup, finishing with 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting plus five rebounds and three blocks in 25 minutes. A South Dakota transfer, Bartling scored four points with seven turnovers before fouling out and Aluong put up seven points with three assists.
For Larson, a Florida transfer, the numbers meant less than the reunion.
"It was awesome - those are two of my best friends," he said. "Me and Jared have been playing since we could walk, basically. It was fun ot be in the gym with those guys."
SDSU junior wing Zach Horstman returned to the lineup Wednesday night after missing one game due to injury. Was his balky back acting up? Nope. He took a spill in practices that required stitches and did dental damage. He’s sporting a noticeable shiner, too.
SDSU freshman wing Kerri Young scored 21 points in a win over Central Michigan on Sunday. That’s the largest output by a Jacks freshman since Jill Young - no relation, but also from Mitchell - put up 25 in 2008-09. Jill Young was a redshirt freshman at that time, while Young is a true frosh.
On Saturday afternoon, the Jacks close out the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule by visiting Middle Tennessee State, a squad that’s getting votes in the AP top 25 poll. SDSU is plenty familiar with the Blue Raiders as this is the eighth meeting.
Nonetheless, it’s going to be a stern test. MTSU boasts a two-time national player of the year candidate in senior forward Ebony Rowe (22.4 ppg, 11.5 rpg) and drew crowds of more than 10,000 in two of its first three home games this season.
The Jacks lead the series 4-3, winning 63-56 last season in Brookings.
The Blue Raiders are ranked 17th by RealTimeRPI.com and SDSU is 62nd. That site predicts that MTSU will win 72-63.
SDSU senior forward Hannah Strop, the glue player in the starting lineup, totaled 18 points the last two games. That ties the largest two-game offensive output in her career.
"She’s been a rock," coach Aaron Johnston said. "She always has been offensively and defensively she’s able to play more minutes now."
Terry Vandrovec also posts regular updates on his Twitter page.