Jacks men take down IUPUI


Most SDSU fans entering the Arena early Saturday night to see the SDSU’s opening-round game saw a potentially huge upset unfolding before them between first-seed Oral Roberts and IPFW.

They then saw SDSU take the floor and quiet any IUPUI upset hopes of their own, as the Nate Wolters-led Jackrabbits took home a 77-56 win in which they made 57-percent of its shots from the floor and forced NBA prospect Alex Young to a 3 of 14 night and just 10 points.

Coach Scott Nagy’s only gripe rested on SDSU’s 12 turnovers, and for every one of those, Wolters found an open man cutting inside and the Jacks forced the ball the other way via nine steals.

That Young – Division I’s active career-scoring leader – finished with more shots than points? Exactly the game SDSU strove to achieve, forcing the left-handed Young to go to his right and shade him the other way. Young said afterward that every shot he hit “was well deserved.”

“They set a lot of ball screens, so we knew we’re gonna get him kept and contained,” junior Tony Fiegen said. “Coaches said we did alright with that.”

SDSU’s containment of Young and overall defensive strength – they allowed 43 percent shooting but forced the Jags to hit just six of 19 3-point attempts – created a balance on the offensive end, Nagy said.

Enough for the Jacks to not worry about taking so many 3-point shots – they took just 10 and instead found holes in the paint. Wolters led that interior aggressiveness, again finding ways to blow past the opposition in finishing with 22 points on 9 of 18 shooting, with seven rebounds and six assists. What’s more, starters Fiegen and Braydon Carlson turned in efficient scoring numbers, finishing with 11 and 12 points while each taking just seven shots. Bench spark-plug and freshman Taevaunn Prince added 10 in only 18 minutes, and helped mark the ninth time SDSU has had four players score in double figures. SDSU’s 9-0 when it reaches that plateau.

It turned out the games’ perhaps most-talented player, Young, was perhaps the least efficient.

“We took a really good player and frustrated him all night,” Nagy said of the senior. “And we took less 3’s. We haven’t been telling our guys that, but we’re making more.”

The Jacks appeared steady in its demeanor as well, taking the court to a crowd of 6,614 mostly Jacks fans, marking the biggest attendance for a tournament game since 1994.

Likewise, IUPUI failed to quiet the partisan crowd early, falling behind nine points in the opening minutes. They cut the deficit to one on after a Young bucket and foul, but allowed a 7-0 scoring spurt in what amounted to an SDSU lead that steadily grew to 21 late in the second half.

“We didn’t get much traction out of the gates,” first-year Jaguars coach Todd Howard said. “But I gotta give them credit, they’re playing at a high, high level.”

In overall tournament terms, SDSU’s win pushed their overall record to 3-3 in the annual league tourney and was just the second time IUPUI lost a first-round matchup in 13 years. And for the first time since becoming tournament-eligible, SDSU gets a day-off before the semi-final round against the winner of Oakland and Southern Utah.

“It’ll be nice,” Fiegen said. “We’ll get to prepare more and watch more film, last year we played back-to-back. It’ll be good for our legs.”