Jags Set To Face Off Against New Mexico State Tonight At The Mitchell Center

December 4, 2012 · By · Filed Under Basketball, Men's 

South Alabama men’s basketball team returns home after a 2-0 start in the Sun Belt Conference. They will host former conference rival New Mexico State on Tuesday night with tip-off scheduled for 7:05pm.

“That’s what it’s all about – winning conference games,” Jaguar head coach Ronnie Arrow said. “Non-conference games are a lead-up to the conference. Not only are we 2-0, but we’re 2-0 on the road, so that’s even better. I was proud of our guys with the way we won. There’s room for improvement, especially in late-game situations, but I thought our guards came ready to play. That’s the best overall they’ve played since Florida State.”

“Now it comes time to see how we handle this,” Arrow continued. “We went and opened up with Florida State and didn’t show up for some games. Our defense was really good (last week) and hopefully now our guys will keep buying in because our defense leads to slam-dunk offense.”

This game at home will only be the second of the season so far in their seven games this season.

The Jags used their sharp 3-point shooting over the last two games to propell them to wins. The Jags have made 20 in a two game span including eight from junior Xavier Roberson with a career high five at FAU.

“The game has become 3-point shooting,” coach Arrow said. “If you’re hitting 3-point shots, you don’t have to draw up plays. It’s penetrate-and-pitch and get up and down the court. Along the way you have to execute in key situations and I think we’re getting better at that. But it’s always nice to be able to pitch to the shooters and have them hit 3-pointers.”

The New Mexico State Aggies enter the game leading the WAC in 3-point defense (.272) and are second in scoring defense with 60.5 points per game.

“They pressure the ball a lot,” Arrow said of the Aggie defense. “Whenever you have that kind of size inside, you don’t have to worry about the hole. You don’t have to come off shooters. When they drive, you have the gigantic guys back there guarding the hole so you don’t have to hedge and can stay on the shooters. That’s why they’re so good at not giving up 3s.”

The Aggies enter the game with a 4-4 record but has won three of their last four games and is coming off of a 68-60 win over then undefeated Southern Miss on Saturday. Their one loss in the last four games came by one point to UTEP 55-54.

Coach Arrow stressed that they out-rebound teams by about 11 rebounds per game. “We’re going to have to box them out and we can’t give up second shots,” he said. “When they’re playing at their best, their bigs are getting buckets right around the hole and we can’t let that happen.”

South Alabama will have tall challenge to defeat the Aggies. They have five players listed at 6’8″ or taller including a 6’10 center and a 7’5” 360-pound freshman center who averages 6.1 points per game and 11 blocks in 14.6 minutes per game.

“Their guys are just big and you can’t let them just catch the ball on the blocks,” Arrow said. “You have to make them get off the block somehow. You have to make them uncomfortable. Bhullar, if he catches it under the rim, I don’t think he has to jump to dunk it. We cannot give them second shots from offensive rebounds. We have to make them work for their shots.”

“We don’t need to pound it in there and expect to shoot it over these guys,” said continued. “We have to take them off the dribble and just make outside shots. We have to do what we do to get and get everybody shots, not just our inside guys.”

Augustine Rubit and Javier Carter will be key for the Jags to counter the Aggie height on the court. Combined they average 23.5 points and 16.5 rebounds per game last week.

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