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Jeff Kolpack, Published February 15 2012

Kolpack: Wolters does almost everything in Jackrabbits' win

Brookings, S.D.

Rapper T-Pain performed in Brookings Wednesday night at a venue called the Swiftel Center. South Dakota State tried to get him to sing the national anthem prior to the SDSU and North Dakota State men’s basketball game at Frost Arena, but Mr. Pain declined.

That’s about all that didn’t go right for the Jackrabbits.

At almost 849,000 followers on Twitter, Mr. Pain has more than SDSU head coach Scott Nagy, who has 1,356. Nagy, by the way, has made it a point to tweet at halftime of every game.

Against NDSU, he wrote, “good half defensively but we need 2 rebound! The only 1 we’re getting is the 1 going through the basket! Go make contact!”

OK, make that two things that didn’t go right in an 80-57 win before 3,303 fans.

Nagy was referring to his team being outrebounded 19-10 in the first half. That was about the only negative statistic in an outcome that could have been worse had Wolters not gone to the bench for good with 12:48 left in the game – a 30-point night already in the books.

“He made great play after great play, I tip my hat to him,” said Bison guard Lawrence Alexander.

The Jackrabbits ended 10 straight losses in this series last month in Fargo. The Bison need to find some sort of equalizer in the point guard matchup with Wolters or this series will begin to tilt the other way with regularity.

“I don’t think anybody has an answer for him, but you have to minimize his effectiveness as best you can,” said NDSU head coach Saul Phillips.

That’s a lot to ask of a freshman in Alexander, whose first visit to Frost didn’t start so well, but rallied in the second half to finish with a team-high 20 points.

“He came in tentative to begin with,” Phillips said.

Alexander went to the bench early with foul trouble and a case could be made the game was already over at that point. The Jacks had Alexander scouted well, making the right-hander go left and if he drove the lane, be ready to take a charge. That’s what got him his second foul with less than four minutes into the game.

Teams have played him that way since he torched Oakland University (Mich.) earlier this season.

“That’s something I have to get used to,” Alexander said.

It was 18-7 by the time he came back with nine minutes left in the first half. He left a little bit later with three turnovers in nine minutes of playing time.

By then, Wolters had 14 points and 3 assists and it was 27-14.

In, for NDSU, came Joel Lindberg at the point. He’s another freshman. Junior Nate Zastrow – who once burned the Jacks for 20 points in a two overtime win on this floor two years ago – tried his hand at point. It didn’t help that guard Dylan Hale was out with a sprained ankle.

Things got so easy for Wolters in the first half that he had three steals for uncontested layups. As a team, the Jacks had 17 points off of Bison turnovers in the first half alone.

“When you’re sitting there down 19, 17 would be pretty handy in your favor,” Phillips said.

It’s a recipe that resulted in NDSU’s worst loss since a 32-point defeat at Minnesota in 2007.

Phillips said he thinks Wolters will be playing in the NBA some day. There was no arguing that on Wednesday. It was a performance worthy of a T Pain rap song.

Asked if he was sorry he missed the concert, Wolters said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.”

The junior had other things on his mind.

“If he stays healthy,” Nagy said, “he’ll be one of the best players to ever play here.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546 or at jkolpack@forumcomm.com

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia