Men's Basketball Opens Home WAC Schedule Thursday

Next Game: Thurs., Jan. 3 Idaho (5-6, 1-0) The Event Center, San Jose, Calif. 7:00 p.m. PST KSJS 90.5 FM
SPARTANS OPEN WAC HOME SEASON THURSDAY:  San Jose State looks to keep its Western Athletic Conference winning streak alive as the Spartans host Idaho Thursday night in the team’s WAC home opener.  The Spartans return to The Event Center after playing the past three games on the road and have not played at home since December 11. San Jose State enters the game with a 7-5 overall record and 2-0 conference record.  The team is tied with Utah State, Louisiana Tech and Idaho for first place in the WAC standings.  The Spartans opened WAC play with road wins at Texas State (72-55) and at UTSA (80-67) this past weekend.  Since joining the WAC in 1996-97, San Jose State has never started conference play 2-0.
LIVE STATS:  All games will have live stats available on the Spartan website at www.SJSUSpartans.com and go to “Live Stats.” 
RADIO COVERAGE:   Thursday’s game will be broadcast on KSJS 90.5 FM, with Justin Allegri on the call.  The pregame show will start 15 minutes prior to tip. 
VIDEO COVERAGE:  All home San Jose State games are available on the Gold Zone on the Spartan website at www.sjsuspartans.com, for a nominal fee.
FACEBOOK/TWITTER:  Follow the Spartan men’s basketball team and all San Jose State athletics teams on the web.  Join the official SJSU Spartans page on Facebook and read the latest tweets on Twitter @SJSUAthletics.  
PARKING:  Parking for all fans is available in the Seventh Street Garage, located on the corner of Seventh and San Salvador Streets, for $5, cash only.
ABOUT IDAHO:  The Vandals enter Thursday night’s game with a 5-6 overall record and a 1-0 WAC mark after defeating Seattle U, 71-64, last Saturday night.  Head coach Don Verlin is in his fifth season at the helm of the Idaho program.  He has a 74-66 record at Idaho. The Spartans will face another one of the WAC’s top scorers on Thursday as Kyle Baron is averaging 16.4 points per game.  He is the reigning WAC Player of the Week after leading the Vandals to a comeback win at Seattle U.  Baron scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.  He also averages 8.1 rebounds per game. San Jose State leads the overall series, 13-10, but Idaho won both meetings last season.  The Spartans last won in the series, 74-68, at the 2011 WAC Tournament.
SAN JOSE STATE HEAD COACH:  George Nessman begins in his eighth season as head coach at San Jose State.  He has an 84-146 record in eight seasons with the Spartans.
LAST TIME OUT: James Kinney had his seventh 20-plus point game of the season as San Jose State defeated UTSA, 80-67.  Kinney finished the game with 22 points, 19 in the second half.  He was 9-of-16 from the field including 4-for-7 from three-point range.  Kinney also dished out a season-high seven assists in 36 minutes of action. Two other Spartans scored in double figures.  Chris Cunningham tied his season best with 19 points and was 6-for-6 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free throw line.  He and Alex Brown led the Spartans in rebounding with eight each.  LaVanne Pennington came off the bench and tied his career high with 16 points, eight in each half.  He was 4-for-7 from three-point range and nailed a key three-pointer at the end of the first half to send the Spartans to the locker room with a 36-30 advantage.
BEST START TO WAC SEASON:  With a 2-0 start in WAC play, San Jose State is off to its best start since joining the conference in 1996-97.  The Spartans have never started 3-0 in league play.  In 1998-98, San Jose State started the WAC season with a 2-1 record a win over Fresno State (91-64), loss to #16 New Mexico (82-81 OT) and win over UTEP (64-63 OT), all at home. The last three-game WAC winning streak came during the 2009-10 season when San Jose State defeated Louisiana Tech (87-76), New Mexico State (93-84) and Hawaii (83-60) during a stretch of home games in January 2010.
WAC OPENERS:  For the third consecutive year, the Spartans opened the WAC season on the road.  In 2012, the team lost at Hawaii, 82-69, on January 7.  The 2010-11 season found San Jose State opening the WAC schedule at Fresno State with a loss, 75-62, on December 29.  The Spartans last won a WAC opener on January 4, 2010, when the team won 78-75, in a home game with Idaho.  
NATIONAL RANKINGS:  As of December 30, four Spartans rank in the top-75 in six categories.  James Kinney is seventh in scoring at 21.5 points per game and 15th in steals at 2.6 per game.  D.J. Brown is65th in field throw percentage at 86 percent.  Chris Cunningham is tied for 33rd in rebounds at 9.5 per game and tied for 25th in double-doubles with 5.  Alex Brown is tied for 33rd in blocked shots at 2.45 per game. As a team, the Spartans are 31st in rebound margin at 7.6, and 78th in field-goal percentage defense at 39.4 and blocked shots at 4.5 per game.
2013 WAC TOURNAMENT:  The 2013 WAC Men’s Basketball Tournament will be held March 12 and 14-16 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.  All 10 team advance to the tournament, with teams 7-10 playing on the 12th, and the eight remaining teams in the tournament playing on the 14th.  The championship game will be shown live on ESPNU on the 16th at 8 p.m. PST.
WAC TOURNAMENT TICKETS ON SALE:  All-session tickets for the 2013 WAC Basketball Tournament set for March 12-16 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., are available for purchase through the Spartan Athletics Ticket Office. All-session tickets include access to each men’s and women’s tournament game, totaling 18 games in 10 sessions.
UP NEXT:  San Jose State continues the homestand with a WAC game against Seattle U on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., inside The Event Center.
Please click on the game notes link for the complete release.