Jackson State Tigers
Southwestern Athletic Conference (19-12, 17-1)
Big Wins: 2/1 at Arkansas Pine Bluff (72-67), 2/15 at Texas Southern (70-67), 3/1 Arkansas Pine Bluff (57-54)
Bad Losses: 12/22 vs Wagner (62-71), 1/18 Texas Southern (44-51), 3/10 vs Grambling (57-65)
Coach: Tevester Anderson
Why They Can Surprise:
Jackson State usually wins games with their defense and that is no different this season. However, it is the scorers on the perimeter that have really stepped up their game and carried the Tigers to a conference championship. Most notable is Garrison Johnson. The 6-5 wing has taken over this team and is a dynamic scorer. He is the team’s most prolific outside shooter, but he does most of his scoring damage using his size to get to the basket. Averaging 17.6 points per game is impressive enough, but Johnson also averages 4.5 rebounds per game and that is not bad at all for a player who spends most of his time on the wing.
Tyrone Hanson and De’Suan Dixon add even more size to the perimeter. Hanson has started quite a few games this year, but he seems to excel as the shooter off the bench. Yet, just calling him a shooter does not do him justice. Hanson does connect on 39.5 percent of his attempts from long range, but he is much more than just a shooter and is quite productive attacking the basket. Dixon is yet another 6-5 wing. Even some Southeastern Conference teams will have trouble with the Tigers rotation of 6-5 guards. Dixon is not much of a shooter, but he is still a great scorer and a superb rebounder. That also makes him capable of stepping into the power forward position against some opponents.
Why They Can Disappoint:
It was supposed to be Grant Maxey who led this team to a Southwestern Athletic Conference title. However, he went down with an injury and only played in two games. That has forced yet another 6-5 guard, Cason Burk, into the starting lineup. Burk is not the scorer that Johnson, Hanson and Dixon are, but he is a superb rebounder and is tough enough to play the power forward position. But there are other options. Oliver Jefferson has earned some starts and has plenty of size, but he rarely plays over ten minutes in a game. Gertavian Blake and Raymond Gregory are both 6-10 and 260 pounds. Those two can clog the paint very effectively. However, neither are good scorers and they are pretty much on the floor for their rebounding and defensive abilities. And they hardly play any more minutes than Jefferson.
Who To Watch:
Rod Melvin has the job of setting up all the scorers on the wing. The 6-1 sophomore is not much of a scorer, but he has two years of starting experience under his belt and has done a superb job of creating opportunities for Johnson, Hanson and Dixon on the wings. Melvin is playing like an upperclassman and that needs to continue into March if Jackson State has any hopes of pulling off an upset.
Rod Melvin, Sophomore, Guard, 5.3 ppg, 3.8 apg
De’Suan Dixon, Junior, Guard, 10.8 ppg, 1.3 apg, 6.5 rpg
Garrison Johnson, Senior, Guard, 17.6 ppg, 1.5 apg, 4.5 rpg
Cason Burk, Junior, Guard, 5.0 ppg, 1.8 apg, 6.5 rpg
Oliver Jefferson, Sophomore, Center, 1.5 ppg, 1.2 rpg
Gertavian Blake, Junior, Center, 2.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Raymond Gregory, Freshman, Center, 2.5 ppg, 1.5 rpg
Tyrone Hanson, Junior, Forward, 11.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg
Phillip Williams, Sophomore, Guard, 4.6 ppg, 1.0 apg
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 63.5 (280th in nation, 8th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 64.8 (84, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 40.1 (307, 5)
Field-Goal Defense: 40.4 (52, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.4 (250, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 32.9 (215, 3)
Free-Throw Percentage: 64.6 (292, 4)
Rebound Margin: 2.4 (102, 2)
Assists Per Game: 11.5 (272, 7)
Turnovers Per Game: 14.7 (243, 2)
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