Men’s basketball look to shutdown SDSU


Josh Purnell/Courier Staff

Ben Pyle lines up his shot at the free throw line in Western Hall.

Brendan Reidy , Courier Staff

BROOKINGS, S.D. – The Western Illinois Leathernecks (9-18, 4-10) will travel to Brookings to face off against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (23-7, 13-2) in the regular season finale. The Purple and Gold lost in their first matchup against SDSU, 100-58. The Leathernecks will seek vengeance and look to add some momentum into the Summit League Tournament.

Western Illinois is in the final home stand of the season. They traveled to Denver on Friday, and will be in Brookings this Saturday. Earlier in the week, they had a huge victory against Oral Roberts. The Leathernecks displayed in the matchup how lethal their offense can be when they work together. However, they will have to be on their A-game if they want to compete on the road against South Dakota State. Western Illinois was embarrassed the last time they played against the Jackrabbits, losing by 42 points, but this is a different Leatherneck team.

They have a new starting lineup, and they are trending to the youth movement by starting two freshmen. Their new starting lineup consists of Kobe Webster, CJ Duff, Zion Young, Ben Pyle and Brandon Gilbeck. The three players to look out for in the matchup with the Jackrabbits are the three guards. Webster is the team leader as a sophomore and is the leading scorer on the team averaging 17 points per game. Duff is having a career year this year, especially from beyond the arc. He is a deadeye shooter, and if the Leathernecks want to come out victorious, they will need to hit shots from downtown. Last, but certainly not least, is Young. He was just recently inserted himself into the starting lineup, and he has been a force. The 6-foot-4 freshman can do a little bit of everything, and he will need to be the focal point of their offense in Western’s regular season finale.

For South Dakota State, they are loaded from top to bottom, and it all starts with the one-two punch of David Jenkins and Michael Daum. Jenkins is in his sophomore campaign and he has impressed. He is enroute to being named the First Team All-Summit, and would be in consideration for Summit League Player of the Year if it weren’t for his teammate Daum. Daum just made his way onto the top-10 NCAA All-Time scoring list and has been tearing up the Summit since day one. This year he has seven double-doubles and is on multiple NBA draft boards.

The recipe for success is easy for South Dakota State. If their dynamic duo is clicking they should be able to cruise to a victory. However, if their two top players have an off night, look no further than David Flatten. The electric forward is having a tremendous season but is often kept in the shadow of Jenkins and Daum. He is the perfect complimentary piece and can pick up the slack for the Jackrabbits if they are struggling. The intensity of this game could be through the roof as both teams look to close out the regular season with a victory. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m.