Fresno State forward Torren Jones, involved in an unusual incident when unable to find an appropriate seat last time out in a victory over Cal State Bakersfield, will play but not start Sunday against Evansville.
But that might be the way the Bulldogs were heading one way or the other in a Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge game at Save Mart Center, given one of the matchups against the Purple Aces and the emergence of sophomore center Terrell Carter.
Coach Rodney Terry said both factored into the decision in trying to dispose of the issue with Jones, who shortly after picking up a third foul early in the second half against the Roadrunners was removed from the game and disengaged from his teammates and coaches, taking a seat among fans along the baseline.
The 6-foot-9 junior went back there after two timeouts and didn’t return to the Bulldogs’ bench until forward Paul Watson went over to speak to him briefly during the game.
Our guys are young adults. They’re learning how to cope with life skills, and if you don’t make the right choice, then we’re going to deal with it, and we dealt with it.
Fresno State coach Rodney Terry on in-house discipline regarding junior Torren Jones
“We handled the discipline internally, did what we needed to do,” Terry said. “Our guys are young adults. They’re learning how to cope with life skills, and if you don’t make the right choice, then we’re going to deal with it, and we dealt with it.”
Terry declined to elaborate, and Jones was not made available to the media. He went through practice with the second unit Saturday.
Carter, too, is figuring it all out, and has taken a lot of the steepness out of that learning curve over the past month. He helped turn Wednesday’s game against Cal State Bakersfield, entering at the under-16 timeout and using his size to thwart center Aly Ahmed, who had scored seven of the Roadrunners’ first 12 points while grabbing two offensive rebounds and blocking a shot.
The 6-10 center said he used what he had learned a year ago playing against Ahmed to his advantage, and he will try to do the same Sunday against the Purple Aces (9-2) and 6-10 center Egidijus Mockevicius, who has nine double doubles in 11 games and is second in the nation with 13.5 rebounds per game.
Carter played 13 minutes against Evansville in a Nov. 24, 2014, game at the Gulf Coast Showcase in Estero, Fla., a 58-52 loss.
He just has to come in and do what he has been doing in practice in terms of being engaged, talking, competing at a high level and just playing with a lot of energy.
Terry on expectations for sophomore center Terrell Carter, who will start Sunday vs. Evansville
“I just remember him being a strong guy, kind of like Ahmed, but a stronger finisher, more athletic,” Carter said. “Just keep him off the boards is what I’m focused on and going at him, giving him a good game. He’s very efficient in the paint. Me, as a big, I respect guys that can finish in the paint and have good post moves, but he’s a good player in the paint.”
Mockevicius, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds in last season’s game, will be running into a different player this season. More confident. More capable.
The game in Florida last season was only the fourth for Carter, who had logged 45 minutes to that point, and 13 of them had come against lower-division Bristol. The matchup Sunday will be critical if the Bulldogs (8-3) are to continue their best start since 2006-07 season and extend a homecourt winning streak to 10 in their 200th game at Save Mart Center.
“I like Terrell in there with him,” Terry said. “He has had some really good stretches in practice, and it has carried over into games. He just has to come in and do what he has been doing in practice in terms of being engaged, talking, competing at a high level and just playing with a lot of energy.”
Et cetera – Bulldogs guard Jahmel Taylor is eligible to play against Evansville after sitting out a year as a transfer from Washington and could get some minutes off the bench.
“I like Jahmel as a guy who brings more shooting to our team,” Terry said. “He’s a guy that can make shots. He’s an older player, but he’s going to have to play his way in. He has missed obviously a whole semester of playing and playing games, but we’ve slowly acclimated him back in with the first and second team in practice so he’ll give us more depth.”
▪ Evansville guard D.J. Balentine surpassed the 2,000-point mark in the Purple Aces’ victory over Norfolk State on Thursday. With 2,006, he is the active leader in the nation regardless of division and well ahead in that race. John Brown from High Point is second with 1,903.
▪ Against the Bulldogs last season, Balentine hit 4 of 15 shots while limited to 13 points. Fresno State allowed Evansville to hit only 38.3 percent (18 of 47) of its shots last season. The difference was at the free-throw line: Evansville was 17 of 25, the Bulldogs 9 of 14.
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada
FRESNO STATE VS. EVANSVILLE
- Sunday: 1 p.m. at Save Mart Center
- Records: Bulldogs 8-3, Purple Aces 9-2
- Webcast/radio: Mountain West Network/KFIG (AM 940), KGST (AM 1600)