D is the key for Jackrabbits road win

Drue Aman

Drue AmanSports Editor

Defense on the road.

That combination has eluded SDSU of late, none more evidenced then a 105-95 win against Southern Utah on New Years Day.

But that combination appeared barefaced Jan. 13 as the Jackrabbits trounced Western Illinois in Western Hall, 81-50. The same building SDSU has went 1-1 the past two seasons outscoring the Leathernecks by a combined three points.

“We’ve been talking to our players about they have to play good defense,” said SDSU head coach Scott Nagy in his postgame radio interview. “They know what they have to do, but it’s got to go from their head to their heart.”

While that defensive belief system remains in limbo overall, the Jacks’ offensive belief system and skill set continues to appear rampant. SDSU shot better from three-point range than from any other part of the floor (69 percent) and saw a near triple-double from standout guard Nate Wolters, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.

Not that SDSU needed 18 points from Wolters, the Leathernecks couldn’t – or simply chose not to – contain junior and Illinois native Griffan Callahan. He finished with 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting while missing only his second free throw this season.

While not a striking defensive performance (SDSU allowed 49 percent shooting in the first half and 43 percent three-point shooting for the game), the 50 points allowed are the second lowest point total SDSU has allowed and the best on the road.

“Coach preached defense all week,” said Wolters, who posted his second double-double in the win. “It really paid off in the second half, we didn’t give them any easy buckets.”

Disallowing easy buckets has not come easy for an SDSU team that have scored more points per game than all but 12 teams in the country, one of those teams being conference foe Oakland. But the Jacks allowed a combined 18 buckets to the Leathernecks, playing without pre-season first-team all-conference selection Ceola Clark III.

The 31-point win also indicates a reversing trend in which the Jacks play well on the road – in fact, better than at home. With a now 6-2 record on the road, SDSU has matched its win total on the road from the two previous seasons combined. In those two years, the Jacks went 6-22 in true road games.

“We’re pretty comfortable on the road right now,” Wolters said.

Drue also live blogs SDSU home games at sdsucollegian.com/sports

#1.1898230:370807247.png:wrest-Kelly-01-ELAND.png:Kevin Kelly converges with Northern Iowa?s Christian Brantley in the heavyweight match of the Panthers? 38-9 victory over SDSU on Jan. 15.:Submitted Photo by Eric Landwehr