No stage fright in Jacks’ win over Buffalo

Tony Fiegen shoots over Buffalo’s Javon McCrea in the first half of SDSU’s win over the Bulls on Feb. 18 / Collegian Photo by Aaron Stoneberger


Jackrabbit fans got their faces ready for national television Saturday. SDSU put a little makeup on their game, too.

Not known for their defense or rebounding, the Jacks stepped it up in both departments for a program-first win over Buffalo, 86-65 in front of 5,378 fans at Frost Arena Saturday.

Behind a stellar 22 points, eight assists and six rebounds from Nate Wolters and 21 points from Griffan Callahan, the Jackrabbits won the battle underneath the hoop and finishing with a 35-31 advantage in rebounding in a game where SDSU never trailed. That led the Jackrabbits to pick up the first TV win for The Summit League in the BracketBusters event.

“It was a great experience for our kids. They have worked so hard to get this game at home and play in front of everybody and they took full advantage of it,” SDSU head coach Scott Nagy said. “It has to help the university to show our logo and we have a great logo but it has to help the university and it definitely doesn’t hurt our program.

The Jackrabbits broke the game open with a 15-3 run over an eight minute stretch in the first half and led 31-18 with two minutes left before the halftime break. Taeveunn Prince’s put-back tip-in at the end of the first half gave the Jackrabbits a 38-26 lead at the end of the first half.

The Bulls entered the game third in rebounding nationally, with 42 rebounds per game. The Jackrabbits rank in the middle of the Summit League in the same category. But SDSU was far more aggressive in the first half, with SDSU’s guards accounting for 15 rebounds, while Buffalo’s bigs has just five in the first 20 minutes.

“We spent a lot of time on that. We just put our bigs on their bigs and let the guards come in to get the rebounds,” said Tony Fiegen, who has the scars to prove it after taking an elbow to the side of the head, requiring a handful of stitches at halftime.

Buffalo was able to close within eight nearly midway through the first half on a pair of Zach Filzen three-pointers but the Jacks busted the lead back to 14 with 12:06 left on a three from Griffan Callahan and sinking long ball from Wolters. The lead would never be in doubt from that point on and the Jackrabbits made it 15 straight wins at Frost Arena dating back to last season.

“The crowd was amazing. They really got going and they really helped us get going and we just fed off of each other,” Callahan said.

Few things phased the Jackrabbits. Not the national broadcast, or the noon start, nor the foreign opponent. In few words, they woke up and played ball.

“Once the ball goes up, none of that stuff really matters,” Fiegen said. “I think [the early start] helped some of us come out and play loose. We were ready to play today.”

With two regular season home games preceding the Summit League tournament, Nagy wants his team to stay crisp and play with an “edge.”

“Today we were where we need to be. If we keep this edge and play this way, we’re pretty tough to beat,” he said.