LIVE: USD men vs. Morehead State

Tonight, the University of South Dakota men’s basketball team hosts its first full-fledged Division I opponent — Morehead State of Kentucky.

USD (6-5) hasn’t played since Dec. 20, while Morehead (5-6) — not of northern Minnesota — last played on Dec. 23.

Morehead State, you might remember, qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. The Eagles return four starters from that team, including 6-foot-8 junior forward Kenneth Faried.

Faried, who was second in the nation in rebounding (13.0) last season, is averaging 16.6 points and 11.9 points per game this season. He is projected by many Web sites as an NBA draft prospect. So, it goes without saying that the Coyotes will have their hands full.

USD will start Roman Gentry, Louie Krogman, Jake Thomas, Tyler Cain and Steve Smith.

Morehead will start Maze Stallworth (6-4, F), Brandon Shingles (6-3, G), Demonte Harper (6-4, G), Steve Peterson (6-5, F) and Faried.

Tip off in just over two minutes.

— — — — —

Crowd looks to be fairly decent for a Monday night game after a blizzard with USD students still on break. You can already feel how different this atmosphere is, say compared to, Dana College (no offense, of course).

USD leads 6-5 at the 15:45 mark. Quick pace early on. Coyotes took a quick 6-2 lead on baskets by Gentry, Cain and Smith. Morehead’s Maze Stallworth then followed with a three from the corner before the break.

One of the first things I’ve noticed is how quick Morehead’s perimeters are; USD’s Krogman and Thomas have had open threes covered up right away. And there won’t be very many fouls called in this one; looks like they’ll let them play.

Quick hands down low on defense for the Coyotes. Yeah….you’ll hear me use “quick” a lot tonight. That’s the best way to describe the pace so far. Kendall Cutler and Mitchell Bouie each hit baskets off the bench for USD.

In transition, Bouie hits a tough layup against Faried. Bouie is fouled before the break, bringing the crowd to its feet. Bouie will head to the line after the timeout.

USD leads Morehead 14-12 with 11:06 to go in the half.

With the shotclock winding down, Krogman drains a three at the top of the key, tying the game at 17-17. Won’t be very many open threes in the game. Smith ties the game at 19 with 8:16 in the half.

Same story, different player. Cain gets a pass down low, turns and hits a layup against Faried. Cain pumps his fist in response, putting USD ahead 21-19 at the under-8 timeout.

After Gentry hits a jumper at the free throw line, Thomas follows with a long three — giving USD its largest lead, at 28-21. Eagles call a timeout with 4:38 to play in the half. Morehead isn’t getting many second chances at the hoop. Cain and Smith are hawking the ball down low.

Quick shoutout to Dan Genzler, who is apparently following along. Miss you, Genz.

USD leads 34-27 with 1:28 to play. Conrad Krutwig hit a jumper off the bench for USD, but Faried followed with a layup before the last break.

HALF: South Dakota 36, Morehead State 29.

Smith leads USD with eight points, while Gentry and Cain each have six. Cain has pulled down six rebounds. Coyotes shot 59.3 percent in the first half. Morehead, which shot 38.2 percent, is led by Peterson and Faried each with eight points.

— — — — —

Just saw an NBA dunk, without question, from Faried. Got the ball inside the three-point arc, turned and threw down a massive dunk in the lane. Holy crap, that was a nice play. You’ll see that again somewhere (although I think most of the TV crews have left).

USD leads 38-34 with 17:17 to play.

Harper hits a three from the right arc to bring the Eagles within 38-37. After Cain is fouled on an inbounds play, we’re headed for another media timeout.

Wish I had video to post of that Faried dunk. My god, he soared over his defender from just inside the free throw circle. Don’t see very many of those dunks in person.

Another crazy play. Thomas got his defender in the air at the top of the key, threw up a wild three that banked in. Got the crowd in it again. Thomas ran back down court with his arms in the air, looking for the foul. USD lead is 42-37 with 13:10 to play.

The WOWs keep on coming. USD had about five looks at a basket down low on the last possession, and Cain skied in and put the ball in. And then on Morehead’s next possession, a shot bounced off the rim and Faried skied in for another monster dunk. Dude can straight play. He’ll be in the NBA at some point in the future.

USD lead is 44-41 with 11:42 to play.

After Peterson hits a layup, Stallworth hits another three from the right arc, pulling the Eagles to within 49-48. Nine minutes exactly left in the game.

At the 8:53 mark, Cutler hits a pair of free throws after being fouled in transition. And later, Goodman hits a nice running layup in the lane, pushing the Eagles within 51-50. Morehead has gone to more of a halfcourt trap here in the second half, but for the most part, USD has broken it.

With 7:52 to play, Harper puts up a three-pointer from the corner, and it bounces high off the rim and falls in. Shot ties the game at 53-53. Something to watch — Faried is in with four fouls.

Cain has a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds, while Morehead’s Faried has 15 and 15.

Stallworth hits another three from the right corner, this time putting the Eagles ahead 58-57. But on the next trip down the court, Cutler goes right at Faried and draws the foul. Faried has fouled out at the 6:03 mark. Cutler hits the first of two free throws, and the game is tied 58-58.

After another after-the-contact layup by Cain, USD pulls to within 62-61 with 3:31 to play. Cain missed the free throw, but the Coyotes will head to the line after Gentry is fouled. Crunch time now.

Stallworth strikes from deep again, hitting from almost the same spot as last time. His three at the 1:43 mark puts the Eagles ahead 65-63. USD’s Gentry then misses a layup at the other end, to which no foul is called. Morehead calls a timeout with 1:14 to play.

Crazy finish in the works.

The ensuing inbounds play goes right to a USD play, but Morehead’s Shingles comes away with it & is fouled. He misses the front end of a one-and-one, and USD drives down court.

Cain gets the ball in the block, spins and puts up a short layup that rolls off the right side. He was fouled, but the Dome crowd let out a collective “OHHHH” when the shot missed. Cain missed the first free throw, and USD calls a timeout.

Cain banks in the second free throw (trying to miss on purpose?) and Morehead inbounds & is fouled. Stallworth, the man of the game, hits the first of two free throws. USD calls a timeout with 2.6 seconds to play.

After the Eagles call a timeout, USD’s Gentry inbounds the ball to Cain, who spins and passes to Thomas. Thomas then puts up a 30-foot three at the buzzer, which clanks off the left rim. Game over. Looked good from my end, just a tad off line.

A DakotaDome classic in USD’s first home game against a full-fledged Division I opponent.

FINAL: Morehead State 66, South Dakota 64

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