Jacks plan to feast on Spartans

Zach Perry

Zach Perry

In a rematch from last season, the SDSU Jackrabbit men’s basketball team will open the regular season Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. against the San Jose State Spartans of the Western Athletic Conference in Frost Arena.

The two teams played last year in San Jose. The Spartans defeated the Jackrabbits 77-71 in overtime.

This match-up will be the first regular season game for the Jacks in the 2008-09 season. The Jacks lost its only exhibition game on Nov. 3 to Southwest Minnesota State, 70-65. The Spartans won 95-50 in their lone pre-season game against Menlo College in Atherton, Calif.

SDSU juniors Garrett Callahan and Kai Williams combined for 31 of the Jackrabbit’s 65 points against the Mustangs. However, SDSU as a team shot just over 39 percent against SMSU, including a woeful 1-of-14 from the newly lengthened 3-point line.

The Jacks will need to improve shooting accuracy and rebounding. SDSU was out-boarded 45-38 against Southwest Minnesota State and will have to find a way to bring down crucial rebounds against a tall San Jose State team.

The Spartans have no shortage of height and will start three players – Tim Pierce, C.J. Webster and Chris Oakes – who measure 6 feet 7 inches or taller. Last season, SJSU out-rebounded their opponents by an average of just over four boards per game.

San Jose State returns with last season’s top five scorers in Webster, Pierce, Oakes, Justin Graham and DaShawn Wright.

San Jose State relies on balance as all five of last year’s scoring leaders averaged between 10 and 12 points per game.

Webster and Oakes are formidable down low and each shot over 50 percent from the field last year. Webster was named to the WAC’s preseason All-Conference Team. Finding a way to defend this tandem will be essential for a Jackrabbit victory.

The Jacks will also need to step out and challenge Pierce from beyond the arc as he is the Spartan’s biggest deep threat.

The Spartans went 13-19 overall last year and were 9-7 in non-conference play. San Jose State is picked to finish fourth in the Western Athletic Conference by ESPN.

The Jackrabbits were 8-21 (7-8 at home) a year ago but are looking for a fast start to the new season.

This is the first year that SDSU will be eligible for postseason NCAA tournament play. SDSU is projected by ESPN to finish eighth in the Summit League this year.

The Jacks will need to finish eighth or better in order to make the conference tournament, which will be held in Sioux Falls, March 7-10.