The Jackson State Tigers are off to a miserable start at 0-7 and are near the very bottom of every major statistical category. The Tigers are coming off a 52-41 loss to Washington State on Thursday and a 120-67 loss to Saint Mary’s on Tuesday. Averaging just over 58 points per game and just shy of 34% shooting from the field, the Tigers are struggling to find any sort of offensive groove.
The Tigers have 3 players currently averaging double digit points with Dundrecous Nelson, a 6-0 185lb guard, leading the squad with 17 a night. Nelson missed the first 4 games of the season, but has surged in the past 3 outings including a 27 point night against Saint Mary’s that featured an 11 of 13 shooting performance from the foul line. Nelson also leads the Tigers with 2.3 assists per game, accounting for more than a quarter of the team’s per game assist average. Nelson is the type of guard that has so often frustrated the Husky defense with quick attacking drives to the lane where fouls are more easily drawn and with Nelson hitting nearly 75% from line, the Huskies will need to be on their best behavior to avoid egregious foul issues.
Behind Nelson is Kelsey Howard, a 6-4 190lb guard, averaging 14.7 points per game. Last season, Howard averaged 14.6 points so Howard has thus far performed much the same as expected. In fact Howard is also averaging very nearly the same in rebounds, steals, and turnovers compared to his redshirt freshman season. The biggest change in Howard’s game thus far has been his increased efficiency behind the arc, raising his 3-point percentage up 5 points. Howard has attempted at least 4 long balls in all 6 games he has played in this year and the Huskies can expect him to continue this trend. Last season, Howard hit 27 points on three separate occasions.
Christian Williams is the only other Tiger in double digits with a 13.6 point per night average. After two dawdling seasons averaging less than 2 points and 7 minutes a game, Williams was asked to take over as an upperclassman and has not disappointed. Last year, Williams averaged 11 points across 28 minutes and has produced better numbers in slightly fewer minutes this season. At 6-1 180lbs, Williams is another small guard shooting a team high 39.2% behind the arc. Williams has attempted 8 or more 3-pointers four times this season. Solid teams have been able to shut Williams down. Baylor held Williams to 3 points on 1 of 5 shooting, Air Force 1 point on 0 of 6 shooting, and WSU 8 points on 3 of 13 shooting. The Husky backcourt, while suffering from several small but inconvenient injuries, should be able to prevent Williams from having too much of an impact on the game.
Raymond Gregory, the team’s biggest player at 6-9 255lb, is averaging only 10 minutes and 1.7 points, and 2.8 rebounds per game. To say that the Tigers will be an undersized and, hopefully, overwhelmed team in the frontcourt is a bit of an understatement. Against WSU the Tiger starting 5 stood at 6-0, 6-1, 6-4, 6-5, and 6-9. Against SU the Huskies 5 stood at 6-4, 6-5, 6-6, 6-8, 7-0. You do the math. I, for one, fully expect Desmond Simmons to go absolutely beast mode on the glass once more and having both Simmons and Aziz N’Diaye picking up back-to-back double-doubles is a very definite probability. In fact, if both Simmons and N’Diaye do not grab double-double I will be extremely frustrated and upset with their performances.
The Huskies should not have too many troubles with the Jackson State Tigers, yet I can’t help but think this game will have a tense moment or two simply due to the inconsistencies this team has been prone to throughout 2012. Perhaps the SU game represented a turning point for this Husky squad. Perhaps not. Only time will tell.