SJSU-Nevada Tonight on Walt McPherson Court

After falling to Seattle University on Monday, the San Jose State Spartan men's basketball team look to get back on the winning track when they host the Wolfpack of Nevada tonight at the Events Center.

Is it 'to Babbitt-ize someone' or 'getting Babbitt-ed'?

We're going with the former, meaning having double figures in points and rebounds putting you underwater.

6-foot-8 Luke Babbitt is the odds-on choice to become the 2009-2010 WAC Player of the Year based on his 24 ppg. (second in the WAC, just behind someone named Adrian Oliver) and league-leading 9.7 rpg. He is shooting 53% overall, 44% from three-point range and 89% at the foul line. His inside/outside game forces smaller defenders to battle his moves inside plus the opponents his size or taller to uncomfortably come outside the key and play defense.

San Jose State doesn't have a solid matchup for Babbitt so this will be an element to watch Thursday evening.

Nevada is just 3-8 away from the advantage of homecourt in 2009-2010 but notably a much more equitable 3-3 in conference away games.

On January 9, these two teams faced off in Reno and Nevada won going away:

The streak continued. Nevada has been dominant in recent games against San Jose State and that didn't change tonight. The Wolf Pack won 96-67.

Adrian Oliver led SJSU with 20 points. C.J. Webster added 15 on 7-10 shooting and Chris Oakes notched another double-double of 13 points and 10 boards.

Nevada shot 51% on the night, going 34-66. San Jose State checked in at 47%, making 28 baskets in 59 attempts. Rebounding was just about even.

Nevada began fast, running out to a quick 8-2 lead, Then it was 13-4. At the 8:15 mark, David Carter's squad was ahead 34-15. At that point, the Pack was 5-8 on three-point attempts and leading the Spartans 14-6 in rebounding. SJSU also had nine turnovers.

At the half, it was 47-29 Nevada. Oakes almost had his double-double by then with nine points and eight boards.

San Jose State made a second-half run as a Robert Owens basket cut the Nevada lead to 55-41 and Oliver followed with a trey to reduce the deficit to 11, 55-44. But Armon Johnson then added three points on a basket and free throw and the Wolf Pack continued to roll.

The Wolf Pack WAC Schedule, to date

Jan 02 @ Louisiana Tech 71 - 77 (L)

Jan 04 @ New Mexico State 77 - 67 (W)

Jan 09 San Jose State 96 - 67 (W)

Jan 13 Utah State 72 - 79 (L) OT

Jan 16 Idaho 76 - 68 (W)

Jan 20 @ Boise State 88 - 82 (W)

Jan 23 @ Fresno State 77 - 87 (L)

Jan 30 Hawai'i 66 - 60 (W)

Feb 06 @ Utah State 65 - 76 (L)

Feb 10 @ Idaho 67 - 66 (W)

Feb 13 Boise State 88 - 80 (W) OT

Feb 17 Fresno State 74 - 70 (W)

The Nevada Starting Five

6-foot-8 Dario Hunt: 25 blocks in WAC play and 7.2 rpg. summarize his game -- one goal is never let him make an easy basket because he's shooting 36% at the foul line in WAC competition

6-foot-9 Luke Babbitt: besides the aforementioned numbers, Babbitt also leads the Pack in steals on the season -- his jab step and stepback jumper is undefendable -- he shot 4-10 in the last game between these teams but went 11-11 at the foul line on his way to 20 points and 10 boards

6-foot-6 Joey Shaw: not so much of a three-point shooter as in previous seasons, he's streaky -- the ball comes off very hard and usually long when he misses, something for opponents to keep in mind

6-foot-4 Brandon Fields: He had a bum ankle but is now healthy and truly benefits from the defensive attention Babbitt and Johnson draw -- he's an inconsistent shooter (39% overall and averaging 12.6 ppg.) but can get on a streak -- shot 8-16 against SJSU in the previous game

6-foot-3 Armon Johnson: 16.3 ppg. on 43% overall shooting, he is but 5-26 on his three-point attempts -- consistency is his bugaboo and is setting up his teammates -- he went for 23 points in 25 minutes in the last matchup

Defenders seems to forget that both Babbitt and Johnson are lefties and prefer to dribble-drive in that direction. It's not that they can't also go right but watch how they are defensed on Thursday.

The Cavalry

6-foot-4 Ray Kraemer: Three is never a crowd -- it's a Kramer as 51 of his 54 shot attempts in WAC play have been three-pointers -- he plies the perimeter waiting for kick-out passes and is making 45%

6-foot- 9 Marko Cukic: he's getting more comfortable in the middle, getting beyond his early-on predilection for collecting a quick number of fouls

6-foot-3 London Giles: a backup at the point

6-foot-9 Keith Olson: he's been out with an injury but may see some action on Thursday

The Wolf Pack Roster by position

Brandon Fields G 6-4 190 Sr.
Patrick Nyeko G 6-6 180 Fr.
London Giles G 6-3 185 So.
Keith Fuetsch G 5-11 170 Fr.
Ray Kraemer G 6-4 200 Sr.
Malik Story G 6-5 225 So. (redshirting)
Armon Johnson G 6-3 195 Jr.

Joey Shaw F 6-6 210 Sr.
Luke Babbitt F 6-9 225 So.
Marko Cukic F 6-9 240 Fr.
Adam Carp F 6-7 205 Jr.
Keith Olson F 6-9 260 So.
Dario Hunt F 6-8 230 So.

What To Expect

- SJSU doesn't have a good matchup for Babbitt (who does?) as he force 'bigs' out of the paint and scores inside over smaller defenders -- how will this play out?

- David Carter doesn't have much depth at his disposal this season and the following numbers portray just that: the Wolf Pack have allowed its collective opponents to score 892 points in the first 20 minutes of games this season -- as for the second 20 minutes, it's 1,023, indicating fatigue and foul trouble lessening the number/quality of defensive stops -- can San Jose State take advantage?

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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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