BROOKINGS, S.D. (SDSU) — A highly contested battle between two of the best in mid-major basketball went Akron’s way Monday night as the Zips came away from Frost Arena with an 81-75 win over South Dakota State.
The matchup featured squads that each were slotted in the top 10 of preseason mid-major rankings and it met the billing.
SDSU jumped out early in Frost Arena and had its largest lead, 24-15, following a Luke Appel layup at the 8 minute, 28-second mark of the first half.
Akron didn’t waste any time cutting into the deficit. The Zips responded with a 9-0 run in a little over two-minute span to tie the score. The two sides traded baskets for the remainder of the half and Akron took a tight 39-37 advantage into the halftime break.
South Dakota State jumped back in front to begin the second half when Kalen Garry hit a 3-pointer to put the Jacks ahead 40-39. The foes were tied at 48-all when Mikal Dawson hit a 3-pointer with just under 15 minutes remaining to give the Zips the lead for good.
The Zips led by as many as seven over the duration of the second half, but the Jackrabbits didn’t let the visitors pull away. SDSU got the deficit to a single possession on multiple occasions and trailed by one twice with just a couple minutes left.
An SDSU 3-point attempt trailing by three with 30 seconds on the clock didn’t fall and the Mid-American Conference preseason favorites closed out a road win.
- The Jackrabbits outshot the Zips 50-46% from the field but Akron had advantages in a couple key areas. The Zips drained three more 3-pointers, going 11-for-27 from deep, and out-rebounded the Jacks 36-26 on the night.
- SDSU junior Zeke Mayo was the team’s leading scorer with 28 points on 10-for-19 from the floor. William Kyle went 8 of 11 and finished with 16 points. They were joined in double digits by Luke Appel (10) and Charlie Easley (10). Easley had a team-high seven rebounds while he and Mayo tied for an SDSU-best four steals.
- Akron had five players score in double digits and was led by Dawson’s 19 points. Enrique Freeman, the MAC Preseason Player of the Year, had a double-double of 13 points and 14 rebounds.
The South Dakota State men’s basketball team returns to action on Wednesday when the Jackrabbits host Dakota Wesleyan in Frost Arena at 7 p.m.