Spartans Back At It Saturday Versus Rival Bulldogs

E.J. Boyce returned to action and hit four 3-point baskets against Colorado State.
Jan. 6, 2017

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It's on - In search of its first Mountain West win, San José State faces the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday inside the Event Center. Tipoff for the 168th meeting between the two programs is set for 2:00 p.m. (PT). Buy your tickets for Saturday's game today at the Spartan Ticket Office, and find out if the Spartans can beat the Bulldogs for the second time in a row at home. The Mountain West Network will broadcast the game with Justin Allegri's play-by-play call which can also be heard on KLIV 1590 AM.
GAME #14
San José State (7-6, 0-2 MW) vs. Fresno State (10-5, 2-1 MW)
Saturday, January 7, 2017, 2:00 p.m. (PT)
The Event Center (5,000)
San Jose, Calif.

Tickets: Spartan Ticket Office (408) 924-7589
Video Streaming: Mountain West Network
Radio: KLIV 1590 AM & KSJS 90.5 FM
San José State defeated the Bulldogs 65-53 inside the Event Center in the last meeting between the two programs ... Brandon Clarke had a double-double in both meetings against Fresno State last season, averaging 14.0 points and 13.5 rebounds over the two contests ... The Bulldogs and Spartans are the Mountain West's top-two teams in steals per game ... At 47.9 percent, Fresno State comes into the game as the league's best shooting team while the Spartans are seventh at 43.4 percent ... Brandon Clarke is shooting 64.3 percent during conference play which is tops in the league ... Karachi Edo is the MW's top shot blocker during league play with 10 in three games.
After two games in conference play it's looking pretty automatic that Brandon Clarke is going to get his on a nightly basis. He went for 18 points and nine rebounds against Nevada and then backed that performance up with 24 points and nine rebounds versus Colorado State. Both opponents have big-men that are ranked in the league's top-five in multiple categories and Clarke averaged 21 points and nine rebounds against them.
After missing three consecutive games, E.J. Boyce returned against Colorado State to score 12 points of 4-of-7 shooting. He nailed timely 3-pointers including one which brought the Spartans within one point, 72-71, with under two minutes left in the game. Boyce added an assist, a steal and a block in 22 minutes off the bench.
San José State rolled out its fifth different starting lineup of the year by mixing in Cody Schwartz and Jalen James against Colorado State. It was the first start of the year for Schwartz - who started all 18 Mountain West games last year - and James made his second start of the year. Schwartz had some history against Colorado State with his career-high of six made 3-pointers coming against them last year on Jan. 27. James has been playing some of his best basketball as a Spartan in his reserve role. He scored 10 points with four rebounds and four assists against CSU.
The matchup between San José State and Fresno State presents three of the top-five thieves in the Mountain West. Jaron Hopkins at 2.1 steals per game and Cullen Russo at 1.9 are the top-two in the league while SJSU's Isaac Thornton is right behind in third at 1.6 per game. Earlier this year, Thornton became second all-time on San José State career-steals list. The senior currently sits at 127 steals in his career.

San José State is averaging 12.5 turnovers per game this season, and has turned the ball over less than 10 times in each of the first two Mountain West games. SJSU’s +1.7 turnover margin against opponents in 2016-17 ranks second in the Mountain West. The turnover battle will be a key element in the game Saturday between the Spartans and Bulldogs as Fresno State is the conference’s steals leader by far at 8.7 per game.

San José State has been one of the best rebounding teams in the Mountain West this season. But since the turn of conference play the Spartans are being outrebounded by an average of 9.5 per game. It’s not a very large sample size (2 games), and the Spartans played those games against some of the MW’s elite big-men – But the Spartans will be looking to turn things around on the battle of the boards Saturday versus the Bulldogs. SJSU remains third in the conference this year with a +3.2 rebounding margin over its opponents.

In the last meeting San José State defeated Fresno State 65-53 in front of the home crowd for its third Mountain West win of the year. It was the first win against the Bulldogs since 2012, and the first against them as members of the Mountain West. A win on Saturday would give SJSU back-to-back wins over the Bulldogs for the first time since 2009. Fresno State holds an 88-80 advantage over SJSU in the all-time series and is the program's longest standing opponent.
The Bulldogs (10-5, 2-1) come into Saturday's game after an 85-70 win over Wyoming at home on Wednesday night. Fresno State's other two results in conference play include a 77-76 win over Nevada and a 78-73 loss at New Mexico. Four bulldogs are averaging double-figures scoring, led by Paul Watson at 14.1 points per game. The reigning Mountain West Tournament champions are coached by Rodney Terry in his sixth season.