Coming into the 2015-16 season, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits were the favourite to come away with the Summit League title come March. They have a group that is filled with talent and experience, and they are also the beneficiary of some of the other top contenders losing some of their own talent from last season.
With their strong play to open the season, the Jackrabbits have been a mainstay in the CCR Mid-Major Power Rankings all season long.
On Thursday night, they went on the road to take on the IUPUI Jaguars in a big road test for the Jackrabbits. The Jaguars came into the night with a 5-12 record overall, and 1-1 in conference play. Despite their sub-.500 record, they have shown flashes of strong basketball this year, and were looking to make a statement on their home floor against the best the Summit League has to offer.
When all was said and done, the Jaguars did exactly what they set out to do. They hung with South Dakota State over the first half, and took control of the game in the last 9 minutes of the game to pull off the upset.
IUPUI came away with an impressive win over South Dakota State, 74-67.
In the early goings, things didn’t look too good for the Jaguars. They were held to just 4 points over the first 5-plus minutes of the game, and the Jackrabbits raced out to a 12-4 lead by the 14:38 mark. Reed Tellinghuisen recorded 5 points on his own for South Dakota State, outscoring the entire IUPUI team.
The Jaguars wouldn’t be intimidated, and began to fight back. Darell Combs scored 7 straight points for the Jaguars, and Marcellus Barksdale followed up Combs’ outburst with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to 14-13.
South Dakota State would try to weather the storm, but couldn’t hold off the Jaguars and their early push on offense. A three-pointer from T.J. Henderson gave IUPUI a 21-17 lead, and they looked to be in full control.
The Jackrabbits stormed back themselves, taking a 4-point lead of their own with under 5 to play in the half. The teams would go back-and-forth to close out the half, with the Jaguars landing the last blow. Nick Osborne made a lay-up with 1:03 left in the half, giving the Jaguars a slim 30-28 advantage after the opening 20 minutes.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Jackrabbits went on another run to put themselves ahead of the Jaguars, opening on a 9-2 run to give them a 37-32 lead with 17:56 to play.
Just like the first half, Combs was the catalyst for the Jaguars to get things started. He hit a jumper to kick off a mini 5-0 run for IUPUI, tying the game at 37-all.
Back and forth the teams would go over the next 4-plus minutes. Deondre Parks hit a jumper at the 10:52 mark to give the Jackrabbits a slim 49-48 lead before a South Dakota State timeout.
From there, it was all about the Jaguars.
Combs converted an and-one play at the 8:31 mark to give the Jaguars a 50-49 lead, and it kicked off another lengthy run for IUPUI. The Jaguars went on an 11-1 run that spanned over 3 minutes to stretch their lead to 59-50. Combs and Barksdale capped off the run by making back-to-back jumpers.
From there, it was all about preserving the lead for the Jaguars. Free throws from Mason Archie II gave them a 13-point lead with 3:19 to play, and it was smooth sailing down the stretch.
Thanks to timely free throw shooting from Barksdale and Jordan Pickett in the closing two minutes, the IUPUI Jaguars were able to secure the 74-67 upset victory over the South Dakota State Jackrabbits.
It wasn’t all bad for the Jackrabbits, as they got an inspired performance from several of their stars. Forward Mike Daum went 9-of-11 from the floor on the night, scoring a game-high 23 points to go along with 6 rebounds. Deondre Parks added 15 points and 6 rebounds of his own in the loss.
Guard George Marshall added 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists off the bench.
Darell Combs was the one name who seemed to always come up when the Jaguars needed a big basket, and he led the team to the big victory. He recorded a team-high 18 points on the night, despite shooting just 6-of-16 from the field.
Marcellus Barksdale put together a solid stat line, recording 8 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, and 3 blocks in the win. Jordan Pickett added 14 points in the win, making all 6 of his free throw attempts in the game to help preserve the victory.
The loss for the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (13-4, 2-1) put an end to their three game winning streak. It also puts them a half-game behind the leaders in the conference standings, but there’s still plenty of basketball still to be played this season. South Dakota State will look to bounce back on Thursday, January 14th when they welcome the IPFW Mastodons to town.
As for the IUPUI Jaguars (6-12, 2-1), the win was their second in three game against top-tier opponents in Summit League play. Despite their sub-.500 record, the Jaguars have shown that they have the talent to contend in the conference this season. They will look to keep things rolling on Saturday afternoon, when they head on the road to face off against the Western Illinois Leathernecks.