When South Dakota first faced IUPUI, the Coyote men were “bullied” on the boards and had one of their lowest point totals of the season in a 15-point loss to the Jaguars.
On Saturday, USD ripped down 17 offensive rebounds and put four players in double figures in a 77-62 victory in Summit League basketball action at the DakotaDome in Vermillion.
The victory pushed USD (8-6 Summit) over .500 on the season for the first time at 15-14. Their current four-game win streak is the longest of the season for the Coyotes.
“I feel like we’re starting to get better,” said USD men’s basketball coach Craig Smith after the victory. “We’re starting to figure out how to handle a lead, put the screws to somebody.”
IUPUI dropped to 9-18 and 5-8 in league play.
“This was a great team win for our program,” Smith said. “I know it’s cliche-ish, but I thought everyone on our team played well.”
Tyler Larson continued his strong senior season, posting 21 points and 13 assists for his 11th double-double of the season.
“We had a chip on our shoulders,” Larson said. “They bullied us at their house. We were into the game and prepared to play.”
Tre Burnette scored 12 points and had six steals. Brandon Bos and Trey Norris each had 11 points in the victory.
Marcellus Barksdale led IUPUI with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Mason Archie added 18 points.
USD scored the game’s first seven points and built to a 15-6 lead just under four minutes into the game. Barksdale led the Jaguars back, scoring nine of the team’s 15 points to tie the game at 21.
Larson scored the game’s next four points to give USD back the lead, and the Coyotes got back to a seven-point edge before baskets by Barksdale and D.J. McCall pulled the Jaguars within three at the half, 40-37.
USD stayed one step ahead of the Jaguars until the midway point, when Trey Norris stole the ball at midcourt and was wrapped up from behind by McCall as he made the layup. The intentional foul was called, and Norris made both free throws before draining a three-pointer to give the Coyotes a 63-53 lead.
IUPUI did not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Norris’ steal was one of 11 by the Coyotes on the day.
“We were just reading eyes, shooting passing lanes,” Norris said of the Coyote defense, which turned IUPUI’s 17 turnovers into 24 points. “That’s how Coach Smith wants me to play. Coach puts us in the best situations to succeed.”
USD, which is guaranteed a top-five finish in the league after being picked eighth, will look to continue its stretch run at home against Denver on Wednesday and South Dakota State on Feb. 28. USD won 74-69 at Denver on Jan. 4.
“We are guaranteed three games left (two regular season and at least one in the Summit League Tournament) in our season, and I am guaranteed three games left in my career. We are excited that we get our last two (regular season) games at home,” Larson said. “Denver we got up there, and we’ll try to do that here. State ... it’s State. It will be a great atmosphere, and we’re excited for that.”
While the Coyotes have continued to improve, Smith feels they have not peaked yet.
“We are consistently starting to play our best, but I am not sure if we’ve had our best game,” he said. “But we’ve showed more consistency in the last two weeks.”
IUPUI also finishes the regular season at home, facing Western Illinois on Thursday and Omaha on Feb. 28.
S. DAKOTA 77, IUPUI 62
Ray 2-3 0-0 5, James 1-2 0-0 2, Archie II 7-10 0-0 18, Barksdale 8-11 4-4 21, McCall 3-8 0-0 6, Svete 0-1 1-2 1, Stanback 1-2 0-0 2, Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Boutte 1-6 2-2 5, Hubler 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-45 7-8 62.
S. DAKOTA (15-14)
Hunter 2-9 2-2 6, Burnette 5-9 1-2 12, Bos 4-12 0-0 11, Kasperbauer 3-8 0-0 8, Larson 7-14 4-4 21, Norris 4-9 2-2 11, Harris 0-0 0-0 0, Mayot 1-2 0-2 2, Davis 0-1 0-0 0, Sparks 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 28-66 11-14 77.
Halftime—S. Dakota 40-37. 3-Point Goals—IUPUI 7-20 (Archie II 4-7, Barksdale 1-2, Ray 1-2, Boutte 1-5, Svete 0-1, Hubler 0-1, McCall 0-2), S. Dakota 10-22 (Larson 3-5, Bos 3-6, Kasperbauer 2-7, Burnette 1-1, Norris 1-2, Davis 0-1). Fouled Out—None. Rebounds—IUPUI 27 (Barksdale 6), S. Dakota 33 (Larson 13). Assists—IUPUI 9 (Barksdale 4), S. Dakota 13 (Kasperbauer 4). Total Fouls—IUPUI 14, S. Dakota 12. Technical—McCall. A—1,723.