Monday, March 8, 2010

Thursday night in Reno: SJSU versus NMSU

New Mexico State is the opening game opponent for San Jose State in the WAC tournament and it's a frustrated squad. That's because Utah State just spanked them by the score of 81-63. The southern Aggie hides were figuratively chapped and they want a rematch. Here's some snippets from various newspaper game reports:

...[Brady] Jardine and [Jahmar] Young got tangled up in front of the USU bench. Jardine came up with the steal and called timeout. Young had to be restrained and eventually was whistled for a technical - Quayle sank both free throws with 36.7 seconds left in the half. Menzies and Morrill then exchanged words as the crowd roared...

...Tai Wesley, on his way up court, pointed to Wendell McKines and said "You have three points"...

...Troy Gillenwater quite purposely bumped Brian Green when he was at the foul line...

It was physical and verbal but only Utah State backed it up with a solid victory instead of words.

So will New Mexico State be 'looking forward' and thereby possibly overlook any opponents between them and a hopeful rematch with Utah State?

We'll find out late Thursday night, beginning at 8:30 p.m., in Reno.

As for previous SJSU - NMSU meetings this season, there were two:

* January 23: 93-84 San Jose State at Walt McPherson Court

Mac Peterson led the scoring for San Jose State with 25 points on 6-8 three-point shooting, plus seven made free throws. His point total was a career high. Adrian Oliver was close by with 22. Jahmar Young led the southern Aggies with 34 points, also a career high. Jonathan Gibson contributed 19 but it took 20 shots for him to reach that total.

New Mexico State came out warm and evolved into hot as getting good and unattended looks at the basket produced a 41-32 halftime lead. The Aggies led 23-21 with 7:25 remaining and went on 16-point scoring run to widen the gap to 39-21. But the Spartans closed strong to reduce it to nine, with a late Peterson trey and an Oliver and-1 three-point play playing big factors.

As the game tightened in the second 20 minutes and with the Spartans pulling ahead, the Aggies seemingly ran their offensive sets less and less, relying more on individual efforts and quick shots.

Overall, SJSU shot 56.4% from the floor and went 12-20 from long distance. New Mexico State took 16 more shots but made three less and ended up at 39.4% for the game. 38 of the Aggies 71 shot attempts were three-pointers.

San Jose State was credited with 23 assists.

The excellent Spartan shooting, especially in the second half, was the result of very solid spacing and crisp passing in the frontcourt.

NMSU did win the turnover battle, 15 to 6. The Aggies utilized a three-quarter court press for most of the game, gaining some turnovers but the outcome more a whittling away of the time on the Spartan shooting clock.

Remarkably, San Jose State scored 61 second half points (to 43 for New Mexico State), close to doubling its total of the first 20 minutes.

* February 6: 94-82 New Mexico State in Las Cruces

Let's take the OK Corral out of Tombstone and place it in the wild west of Las Cruces. The Earps (host New Mexico State this time) versus the Clanton Gang (San Jose State), lots of firepower on both sides.

When the gun smoke cleared, it was the Aggies winning 94-82.

Robert Owens led the Spartans with a career-high 29 points, shooting 10-15 overall (7-12 on threes). He was 'en fuego' until the last minutes when he missed his final three trey attempts. Adrian Oliver contributed 22 while Chris Oakes earned a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards.

Jahmar Young topped New Mexico State with 25 points and Jonathan Gibson was right behind with 20. In his first game of the season, Troy Gillenwater provided a double-double of 19 points and 11 boards -- all in just 21 minutes of action.

The Aggies led by 12 soon after the second 20 minutes began but a pair of three-pointers by Owens made it 56-52 at the 14:55 mark. A little later on, Owens' trey and foul shot (he was fouled) cut the deficit to three at 61-58.

The pattern was the Aggies extending the lead and San Jose State drawing back close but SJSU could never tie or go ahead.

A Mac Peterson three with 7:55 remaining put the score at 76-71.

With around five minutes left, San Jose State sagged a bit and the Aggies expanded the point differential to 10 at 83-73 before closing out matters.

As a team, San Jose State shot 43% overall, 11-23 on trey attempts and 9-14 from the foul line. The Aggies were sharper though with 52% overall shooting, 10-21 from long distance and 18-24 at the charity stripe. The 21 three-point shots were a far cry from the 38 New Mexico State attempted in the earlier game between these two teams in San Jose.

The Aggie Starting Quintet

6-foot-11 Hamidu Rahman

* he's getting better with each season, adding a mix of inside scoring, rebounding and shotblocking
* shot 42% at the foul line in WAC play so don't give up anything easy -- put him on the charity stripe
* his rebounding totals are split at 59 offensive/72 defensive so blocking him out is critical
* making him shoot off balance attempts inside is the key to him missing more than he makes

6-foot-6 Wendell McKines

* the top boardman on the team
* he'll pop one or two attempts a game from outside but, like Rahman, don't hesitate to put him on the line if he has a chip shot (49%)
* the Aggies roll when he is creating openings and then kicking the ball out to an open teammate

6-foot-5 Jahmar Young

* he possesses a shooting range best described as long, longer and longest and he can create shoot over most defenders
* around one third of his shots are three-pointers -- just don't give him long, open looks

6-foot-1 Jonathan Gibson

* 60% of his shot attempts are treys but he's streaky and not as consistent as Young
* it's a pick your poison approach but let Gibson -- rather than Young -- beat you

6-foot-1 Hernst LaRoche

* he is among the best in the WAC at delivering the ball to teammates with the fewest blips
* not necessarily a creator
* LaRoche shoots the same from the floor as he does from long distance, 40%

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 Troy Gillenwater

* his late-season eligibility created a stir but he added 13.5 ppg. to the offensive arsenal
* let him shoot from long distance (4-17) but don't allow him good position in the paint

6-foot-5 Gordo Castillo

* he is a three-point marksman, period (50 of his 60 shots attempts were treys) -- best in the role of catch-and-shoot

6-foot-5 Tyrone Watson

* a walk-on, Watson brings energy, hustle and muscle to the floor

What To Expect

* Which Aggie team shows up? The focused one that plays like it for most if not all of the 40 minutes or the bunch of individuals going one-on-one, casting up too many trey attempts and lacking defensive intensity?

* To a major degree, it will be a battle of the threes as both teams utilize long distance shooting as a major part of their respective offensive arsenals

* The Aggies can be taken advantage of on the boards but does that then dictate the lineup playing the most minutes for SJSU?

* The Spartans are shooting 73% at the foul line to 63% for New Mexico State

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