AJ Plitzuweit makes triumphant return for Coyote men in win over Lipscomb – Mitchell Republic


VERMILLION, SD — South Dakota guard AJ Plitzuweit scored a game-high 33 points on 9-of-11 shooting as he led the Coyotes to an 85-77 win over Lipscomb Wednesday inside the Sanford Coyote Sports Center.

It made Eric Peterson a winner in his first home game as Coyotes head coach and tied South Dakota’s record at 1-1 in the young season. Lipscomb, out of the Atlantic Sun Conference, was playing his season opener.

To call Plitzuweit’s achievement remarkable would be a gross understatement. He was making his return to the same court where he suffered a horrific leg injury 20 months ago. An injury that required a long rehabilitation and forced him to miss the entire 2021-22 campaign.

Plitzuweit’s performance ranked up there with his 37-point pair of games in his first season with South Dakota in early 2021. He was 5 of 6 from 3-point range, made jumpers from midrange and scored at the edge. He was 10 of 10 from the free throw line. He had five assists, two steals and no turnovers. He played 35 minutes 48 hours after recording 27 minutes in Madison, Wisconsin.

“Obviously the story is that AJ is coming back, right?” said Peterson. “Really proud of him. There’s a lot of guys who might not recover from an injury like that and take advantage of it and say, ‘Hey, I’ve had a great career’. I’m going to finish school and move on. I’m emotional about that because I saw how hard he worked to come back.

“Everyone wants to give you your game ball when you win your first game. I couldn’t think of anyone better to give it to than AJ Him on the way back, that’s something I won’t forget ever in my career.

Lipscomb led by as much as 15 points in the first half and 42-35 at the break. That lead held until Max Burchill made a pair of free throws with 9:11 remaining to tie the game at 57-57. The Coyotes’ first lead came moments later. Plitzuweit and Tasos Kamateros buried straight 3s that sparked an 11-0 streak that put South Dakota ahead 69-59 with just over four minutes left.

Kamateros had 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting and led all players with eight boards. The Coyotes also got 11 points and six rebounds from Damani Hayes and eight points from Mason Archambault. South Dakota was 10 of 18 from downtown and 19 of 21 from the charity strip.

Lipscomb got 20 points from Will Pruitt who made three 3-pointers and was 6 of 8 from the field. Jacob Ognacevic provided an instant attack off the Bisons bench with 18 points in 20 minutes of action. Lipscomb was 3 of 9 from long range in the second half after setting the net on fire in the first.

South Dakota stays home to host Dakota State in a 5 p.m. tip Saturday. It’s the Coyotes’ final tune-up before they face Mississippi State on Nov. 17 to kick off the Fort Myers Tip-Off.

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