One of the most successful regular seasons in SJSU football history has the opportunity to become the schools winningest on Saturday. The Spartans take on Louisiana Tech University, the offense that leads all of collegiate football averaging just more than 582 yards per game, in the season finale at Spartan Stadium.This game could have been a final-week showdown for the Western Athletic Conference championship, but Utah State should confidently defeat Idaho on Saturday to claim the conference title. Instead, SJSU is playing for something it seems to cherish to the same degree becoming the best major-level football team the school has ever seen.The 1987 Spartan team won 10 games, the tenth being a win over Eastern Michigan in the California Bowl. With a win Saturday, they would become the first team in school history to win 10 regular season games. Looking further into the future, should SJSU receive a bowl invitation and win, the teams potential 11 wins would be the most the school has ever won since becoming a major football program in 1950.Our kids want to go down as winning the most football games of any football team in the history of San Jose State University, head coach Mike MacIntyre said. Thats pretty special. Theyll have that on their picture for the rest of their lives in their office and the seniors will be able to say they built something when no one even gave them a chance.For what theyve done even to this point, even if we dont win the next two, which we plan to, this senior class has really persevered and Im proud of them, but their goal is to be the best San Jose State team, win-wise, ever in the history of the school and we have a shot at that.When thinking of the magnitude of this game and how it could rewrite SJSU football record books, junior linebacker Vince Buhagiar thought of a memorable quote by Herb Brooks, coach of the 1980 United States Olympic hockey team.Great moments come from great opportunities, Buhagiar said, quoting Brooks. For the past few weeks Ive had that is my head and what we have here is a great opportunity so were hoping to make some great moments and memories out of it.From Buhagiar to other members of the Spartan defense, the phrases fast-paced and keep up were tossed around describing the prolific Bulldogs offense.We have to play to their tempo, said junior defensive back Bene Benwikere about the LA Tech offense. They have a lot of timing a precision. We have to make sure we read our keys and play mentally tough.The game features two quarterbacks found toward the summit of many collegiate passing statistical categories. SJSUs David Fales is the most accurate passer among the college ranks, completing 72.5 percentage of his throws, and is fourth nationally in passing yards.The Bulldogs Colby Cameron, however, ranks higher than Fales in a couple of significant categories. The two are tied for ninth in the country with 28 TD passes, but Cameron has completed more passes for more yards and has thrown 6 fewer interceptions than Fales. Cameron ranks second in the nation with 3,679 passing yards and third with 321 completions.Junior linebacker Keith Smith, the WACs reigning Defensive Player of the Week, said a key for the defense in stopping Cameron lead the Bulldog offense is to get its coverage alignments correct at the line of scrimmage.(Cameron) has a lot of weapons and their coaching scheme, that fast-paced offense, is difficult to deal with, he said.Fales said he cant be too worried with how well the LA Tech offense is clicking, he has to make sure the Spartan offense stays focused.We know that they will put the numbers up, he said. Our defense is putting together a good game plan to slow them down too, but theyre a good offense so we have to be ready to keep going and keep scoring.MacIntyre said he glad to have coach Terry Malley, who spent 14 seasons as an offensive coach with the San Jose Sabercats of the Arena Football League, because LA Tech is putting up arena league numbers.Our defense needs to step up and slow them down and keep them well below their scoring average, MacIntyre said. I dont think you can say you can just say shut them down, nobody has. But I do think we can slow them down and prevent their scoring from being as high as it has been.The LA Tech defense is not as dominant as its offense, though. It ranks 124th in the country in total defense, allowing 518.5 yards per game. MacIntyre, however, said those numbers may be construed because of the Bulldogs offenses ability to score quickly. La Techs defense has played 68 more plays on the defense than the next busiest defense in the WAC.Theyre never out of it, MacIntyre said describing how dominant the Bulldogs offense can be. Our kids, when they see the film, theyll see the scores, how quick they score. Theyll see that theyre never out of it. So we need to keep putting on more steam, over and over and over.For the second week in a row, SJSU will play on ESPN2. Smith, who recorded a conference-best 19 tackles in last weekends 20-14 win over BYU, said the game will be a perfect stage for us.Last game of the season, what a better way than to have it at home on national TV? Smith said. Its a big game, again. I feel like we showed up last week and if we prepared better than we did last week, or even just as good, I feel like were going to fare well.
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Josh Jackson declared for the NBA draft on Monday after one of the best freshman seasons in Kansas history, one marked by plenty of highlights on the floor and a few distractions off it.
The 6-foot-8 swingman, who is considered a certain lottery pick, was the Big 12 newcomer of the year after averaging 16.3 points and 7.4 rebounds. He helped the Jayhawks to a 31-5 record and its 13th straight regular season Big 12 title before losing to Oregon in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Jackson signed with former NBA player B.J. Armstrong of Wasserman Media Group.
"After thoroughly consulting with my family, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball," Jackson said in a statement Monday.
"I am very thankful for all of the support I have received from my coaches and teammates at Kansas," he said, "and I look forward to starting my career in the NBA."
Jackson was the nation's No. 1 recruit when he signed with the Jayhawks out of Prolific Prep Academy in California. He immediately earned a spot in the starting lineup, teaming with national player of the year Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham to form one of the nation's top backcourts.
With natural athleticism and ability to slash to the basket - not to mention defensive chops that are rare among freshmen - Jackson quickly established himself as one of the nation's top draft prospects.
His importance was never more evident than in the Big 12 Tournament, when he was suspended by coach Bill Self following a series of off-the-court issues. The top-seeded Jayhawks stumbled in a quarterfinal loss to TCU, ending their run at the conference tournament before it really began.
He returned for the NCAA Tournament and played well in wins over UC Davis, Michigan State and Purdue, but was hamstrung by foul trouble and managed just 10 points in a season-ending loss to the Ducks.
Jackson's suspension came following an incident outside a Lawrence bar in December, when a member of the Kansas women's basketball team got into an altercation with Jackson's teammate, Lagerald Vick.
Jackson followed the woman to the parking lot and the woman said he kicked her car and caused hundreds of dollars in damage. He pleaded not guilty last week in Douglas County District Court to one misdemeanor count of criminal damage to property and a trial is scheduled for May 24.
His attorney, Hatem Chahine, said he was planning to file for diversion.
Jackson also was ticketed in February after he struck a parked car and fled the scene, and that drew Self's ire when he didn't tell his coach about the incident until several weeks later.
His decision to declare for the draft came a week after teammate Svi Mykhailiuk announced he would skip his senior season. But unlike Jackson, the 6-8 sharpshooter has not hired an agent and could withdraw his name by May 24 and return to the Jayhawks.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's OK, Carolina, you can open your eyes.
An unwatchable game turned into a beautiful night for the Tar Heels, who turned a free-throw contest into a championship they've been waiting an entire year to celebrate.
Justin Jackson delivered the go-ahead 3-point play with 1:40 left Monday and North Carolina pulled away for a 71-65 win over Gonzaga that washed away a year's worth of heartache.
It was, in North Carolina's words, a redemption tour - filled with extra time on the practice court and the weight room, all fueled by a devastating loss in last year's title game on Kris Jenkins' 3-point dagger at the buzzer for Villanova.
"Just unreal that we get a second chance at this," junior Theo Pinson said, recounting a pre-game conversation with teammate Joel Berry II. "Not a lot of people can say they can do that. I told him, `We're about to take this thing. I'm about to give everything I got.' I knew he would, too, We just didn't want to come up short again."
But to say everything went right for Roy Williams' team at this Final Four would be less than the truth.
The Tar Heels (33-7) followed a terrible-shooting night in the semifinal with an equally ice-cold performance in the final - going 4 for 27 from 3-point land and 26 for 73 overall.
Gonzaga, helped by 8 straight points from Nigel Williams-Goss, took a 2-point lead with 1:52 left, but the next possession was the game-changer.
Jackson took a zinger of a pass under the basket from Pinson and converted the shot, then the ensuing free throw to take the lead for good. Moments later, Williams-Goss twisted an ankle and could not elevate for a jumper that would've given the Bulldogs the lead.
Isaiah Hicks made a basket to push the lead to 3, then Kennedy Meeks, in foul trouble all night (who wasn't?), blocked Williams-Goss' shot and Jackson got a slam on the other end to put some icing on title No. 6 for the Tar Heels.
Williams got his third championship, putting him one ahead of his mentor, Dean Smith, and now behind only John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Adolph Rupp.
"I think of Coach Smith, there's no question," Williams said. "I don't think I should be mentioned in the same sentence with him. But we got three because I've got these guys with me and that's all I care about right now - my guys."
Berry recovered from ankle injuries to lead the Tar Heels, but needed 19 shots for his 22 points. Jackson had 16 but went 0 for 9 from 3. Overall, the Tar Heels actually shot a percentage point worse than they did in Saturday night's win over Oregon.
Thank goodness for free throws.
They went 15 for 26 from the line and, in many corners, this game will be remembered for these three men: Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades, the referees who called 27 fouls in the second half, completely busted up the flow of the game and sent Meeks, Gonzaga's 7-footers Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins, and a host of others to the bench in foul trouble.
The game "featured" 52 free throws. Both teams were in the bonus with 13 minutes left. Somehow, Collins was the only player to foul out.
Most bizarre sequence: With 8:02 left, Berry got called for a foul for (maybe) making contact with Karnowski and stripping the ball from the big man's hands. But as Karnowski was flailing after the ball, he inadvertently grabbed Berry around the neck. After a long delay, the refs called Karnowski for a flagrant foul of his own.
"I'm not going to talk about refs," Karnowski said. "It was just a physical game."
Zags coach Mark Few handled it with class, calling the refs "three of the best officials in the entire country," and insisting they did a fine job.
He might have wanted further review on the scrum with 50 seconds left. The refs were taking heat on social media for calling a held ball, which gave possession to the Tar Heels, on a pile-up underneath the Carolina basket. It set up the Hicks layup to put Carolina ahead by 3. One problem: Meeks' right hand looks to be very much touching out of bounds while he's trying to rip away the ball.
"That was probably on me," Few said. "From my angle, it didn't look like an out of bounds situation or I would have called a review. That's tough to hear."
The Bulldogs (37-2), the Cinderella-turned-Godzilla team from the small school in the West Coast Conference, tried to keep the big picture in mind. Twenty years ago, this sort of run at that sort of place looked virtually impossible. With less than 2 minutes left, they had the lead in the national title game.
"We broke the glass ceiling everyone said we couldn't break," junior forward Johnathan Williams said.
And North Carolina got over a hump that, at times this season, felt like a mountain.
"They wanted redemption," Williams said. "I put it on the locker room up on the board - one of the things we had to be tonight was tough enough. I think this group was tough enough tonight."