Jackrabbit men dominate rivalry matchup with USD in Vermillion

Jan. 20—VERMILLION — Inside and out, South Dakota State dominated its men's basketball matchup on Saturday afternoon against rival South Dakota.

The Jackrabbits finished with a 46-12 edge in the paint for the game, bullying their Coyote counterparts to the tune of a 73-55 on Saturday afternoon at the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

It was the seventh consecutive victory in the series for the Jackrabbits dating back to 2020, and USD coach Eric Peterson said the Coyotes haven't done their part to hold up the rivalry on the floor.

"South Dakota State played tremendous," Peterson said. "Part of it was us, but part of it is that they're a really, really good team. They have six guys that have played in this game and understand the meaning of a game like this," Peterson said. "I think our lack of experience in something like this really showed today. It was very clear to see."

The hustle stats all tilted toward the Jacks (11-9, 4-1 Summit) in the win, with a 41-31 edge in rebounding and a 17-4 edge in second-chance points in front of a reported audience of 3,892 fans.

The Coyotes started four guards and were never able to establish much of a presence inside. Six-foot-10 Lahat Thioune had six points and eight rebounds and aside from five 3-pointers from the 6-foot-9 Jevon Hill, USD's biggest players were quieted by the SDSU forwards of Luke Appel and William Kyle III. Kyle had 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks, while Appel posted 12 points.

"We have a lot of balance, we have a lot of ways we can score," SDSU coach Eric Henderson said. "We've had a lot of guys in double figures since Christmas. To be versatile like that is huge. We know we need to get paint touches and be a physical basketball team and we did that tonight."

The starpower of Zeke Mayo was apparent as well, with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists from the Jacks' leading scorer. Charlie Easley scored 19 points on 9-for-12 shooting, including 13 in the second half to put the game away for SDSU, which won for the fifth time in the last seven outings.

"I think our team is coming around and coming together like we've anticipated all year," Mayo said. "But after Christmas, I think we've played some great games, some tough, hard fought games. As long as we stay connected and do what we know we're capable of doing, we can come out on top."

USD had a slow start, shooting 30.3% from the field and trailing by as many as 13 points in the first half before getting to within 37-26 at the intermission. The Coyotes (9-11, 2-3 Summit) cut the Jackrabbit lead to three points in the second half on two occasions, including a Max Burchill 3-pointer with 10:43 left to make it 50-47. But SDSU rattled off the next nine points in a row and the lead hung in double-digits for the remainder of the game.

The Coyotes were led by 15 points from Hill and 10 points from Kaleb Stewart, who missed the Coyotes' overtime win on Thursday over St. Thomas due to an illness. The Coyotes shot 32 3-pointers and made 11 triples and shot 34.5% overall, while SDSU hit at nearly a 48% clip from the field.

"We have guys that are stepping up at big moments," Henderson said. "We haven't been the best defensive team and I've talked a lot about that with our group, that if we want to reach our goals we have to be better defensively and I think we took a step forward in that area tonight."

On the Coyotes sideline, Peterson wanted his team to feel the sting of the rivalry blowout for the future meetings, maybe as soon as 15 days out when the two teams meet again on Feb. 4 in Brookings.

"We haven't won too many of these games," Peterson said. "If you look over the last 20 times we've played them, we haven't won too many of them. I love rivalry games but we have to hold up our end of the rivalry to make it a true rivalry game. ... This can't happen again, absolutely not."

Up next, the Jacks return home to host Kansas City on Thursday, Jan. 25, while USD travels to upstart Denver on Thursday, Jan. 25.