Spartans Tip-Off Tonight Against La Tech

The San Jose State men's basketball team is in Ruston, LA tonight to face Louisiana Tech. The last time the two teams met the Spartans came away with an 87-76 victory.

Okay, it's rematch time.

Louisiana Tech came to Walt McPherson Court on January 21 riding high, with momentum flowing as the top team in the WAC.

They got spanked.

Here's what we wrote post-game:

"Basketball games generally have ebbs and flows with team taking turns at making splashes. Tonight it was all flowing for San Jose State versus too many ebbs for visiting Louisiana Tech and the Spartans won 87-76.

Adrian Oliver's 39 points (12-19 shooting, 12-12 at the foul line, 3-5 from long distance) paved the way. Chris Oakes added 16.

Bulldog Kyle Gibson totaled 22 points, 20 of those in the second half. Olu Ashaolu just missed a double-double with 19 points and eight boards.

SJSU shot 55% from the floor, 7-15 on treys and 24-28 from the foul line. In contrast, LT shot 45% but had just 12 free throws, making eight. Coach Kerry Rupp's squad went 10-22 from downtown with Gibson leading the way at 4-8.

Foul trouble plagued Gibson -- who collected #5 late in the game after getting #4 with 14:58 on the clock -- and also Magnum Rolle, allowing the pair to be on the court for just 24 and 28 minutes respectively.

The Bulldogs had more offensive than defensive boards at 14 to 11, attributable to SJSU's sharp shooting and the strengths of Rolle and Ashaolu.

The Spartans led 41-31 at the half and also out-scored Tech 46-45 in the second 20 minutes.

Entering the game, Louisiana Tech was scoring 79 points per game and allowing just 67 versus WAC opponents -- so they almost matched their usual point production but were +20 points defensively.

SJSU entered the match producing 72 points per conference game while giving up 79, a plus of 15 points offensively and allowing three less than usual on defense.

The Bulldogs also entered the game allowing opponents to shoot just 42% overall yet the Spartans manage to connect on the aforementioned 55%.

There was a stretch in the first 20 minutes between the 6 minute and the 4:25 marks where it was all Oliver. He stole a pass on the press and scored via a driving layup. Another steal produced two AO foul shots and a second steal did the same. Finally, Oliver nailed a three-pointer.

What was readily apparent was how critical Gibson is to the Bulldog offense. When Gibson was sitting due to foul trouble in the first half, Louisiana Tech's offense looked dysfunctional. There was no one on the court to dribble-drive and break down defenses.

C.J. Webster missed the game for SJSU with an eye injury."

So it was fine shooting for the Spartans and Kyle Gibson's foul trouble that particularly paved the way -- in an abbreviated analysis that would humble the length of any tweet from Twitter.

In Louisiana Tech's last game, at home versus New Mexico State, the Bulldogs allowed 91 points. Here is our brief summary, followed by a writeup from the LT athletics site:

New Mexico State handled Louisiana Tech 91-77 in Ruston. That should definitely make some noise. 91 points? Wow!

It was 48-43 Aggies at the half. Hamidu Rahman led with a double-double of 22 points (10-15 shooting) and 12 rebounds, Jamar Young tossed in 19 and Gordo Castillo scored 17 points in 19 minutes, based on his 5-6 three-point shooting. Magnum Rolle's 27/15 double-double went for naught while Kyle Gibson added 22 points but was a cold 3-12 from long distance. Jamel Guyton shot 1-10 including going scoreless on five trey attempts.

and

January 30, 2010

RUSTON, La. - For the first time in 12 games, Louisiana Tech lost at home as they fell to a hot-shooting New Mexico State 91-77 on Saturday at the Thomas Assembly Center.

The Bulldogs fell to 18-4 overall and 6-2 in the Western Athletic Conference while the Aggies improved to 13-8 overall and 6-2 in the WAC. They joined Utah State to make it a three-way tie for first place in the conference.

"We were in first place and when a team comes in, they are going to fight to knock us out," Tech head coach Kerry Rupp said. "We didn't play with the hunger and the fire that we had recently. We've just got to get back to work."

Prior to the game, NMSU had shot 43.9 percent from the field, the Aggies shot 37-of-69 for 53.6 percent on Saturday. Tech was 30-for-75 for 40 percent.

Senior Magnum Rolle led all scorers with 27 points and 15 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season. Rolle played 40 minutes for the second-straight game. Senior Kyle Gibson had 23 points and junior DeAndre Brown scored 16.

"We got off to a bad start and we can't do that against a good team," Rupp said. "They disrupted us with some pressure and the next time we face them we have to handle that better."

The Bulldogs fell behind 16-5 as they were just 2-of-11 from the field over the first seven minutes of play. Tech shot 18-for-28 for the remainder of the half and cut the deficit to two, but couldn't take a lead. The Aggies shot 51.3 percent (20-for-39) in the first half and went in to halftime with a 48-43 lead.

New Mexico State sank eight of their first nine shots taken in the second half and led 67-54 six minutes in. They continued their torrid shooting and led by as much as 19 mid-way through before winning by 14.

"We didn't get back on defense and gave up way too many easy baskets," Rupp said. "We took some bad shots and they came back and got something easy."

Jahmar Young scored 19 points and Hamidu Rahman had 22 as four Aggies scored in double-figures. NMSU outscored the Tech bench 24-0.

WAC Schedule To Date

01/02/10 vs. Nevada W, 77-71
01/04/10 vs. Utah State W, 82-60
01/09/10 at Idaho W, 77-71
01/11/10 at Boise State W, 79-64
01/14/10 vs. Fresno State W, 81-73
1/21/10 at San Jose State L, 87-76
1/23/10 at Hawai'i W, 65-60
1/30/10 vs. New Mexico State L, 91-77

The Bulldog Starting Five

It's the starting five that have to do the job for Louisiana Tech.

6-foot-10 Magnum Rolle - His scoring and rebounding numbers have gotten better this season both overall and since league play began.

6-foot-7 Olu Ashaolu - Ashaolu is a bull down in the paint and can put up 20 points and grab 10 boards on his better nights

6-foot-5 Kyle Gibson - The centerpiece of the team, Tech goes as Gibson goes. He can create plus shoot inside and outside

6-foot-3 Jamel Guyton - Generally a long range shooter, he benefits from the defensive attention especially focused on Gibson and somewhat on Rolle

5-foot-11 DeAndre Brown - His play and numbers have also improved since non-conference action

The Cavalry

6-foot-8 David Jackson - Jackson does a little bit of everything, is comfortable with his role and pops up every so often with double figure scoring. He averages 20 minutes of playing time but sat out -- not in uniform -- the loss to New Mexico State due to some unspecified infraction

6-foot-0 Yonas Berhe - A fill-in at the point -- not a major minutes player

6-foot-3 Anson Bartlett - A backup in the backcourt averaging eight minutes a game -- shooting appears to be his best asset

6-foot-10 Shawn Oliverson - He is playing very little this season as Kerry Rupp shifts Olu Ashaolu into the middle if Magnum Rolle gets into foul trouble

The LT roster, by position

Brandon Gibson 6-5 225 G SO
Jamel Guyton 6-3 200 G SR
Yonas Berhe 6-0 170 G SO
DeAndre Brown 5-11 160 G JR
Andres Marmolejo 6-3 215 G JR
Kyle Gibson 6-5 205 G SR
Darius Redding 6-4 205 F FR
Tevin Hall 5-10 155 PG FR
Anson Bartlett 6-3 175 G SO
Justin Rake 6-3 200 SG FR

Olu Ashaolu 6-7 220 G/F SO
Trey Felder 6-5 169 SG/SF FR
David Jackson 6-8 205 F SR
Kaiser Stegall 6-3 205 SF FR

Magnum Rolle 6-11 225 C/F SR
Shawn Oliverson 6-10 250 C/F JR

What To Expect:

- The Bulldogs obviously want revenge to be on the menu and also will be looking to regain respect after a defensive debacle at home against NMSU

- Kyle Gibson is just a very tough matchup so the key seems to be to make him work for his points while 'containing' the other Bulldogs -- not letting anyone go off on a career night

- LT is currently third in defensive scoring average in the WAC at 72 points per game so were New Mexico State's 91 points and San Jose State's total of 87 anomalies or signs of defensive weaknesses being exposed? Tech is second in the conference in field goal percentage defense at 446%.

- C.J. Webster will be available for this matchup, providing greater depth upfront for the Spartans

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Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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