Spartans Battle Aztecs On ESPNU
Jan. 9, 2017
SPARTANS BATTLE AZTECS ON ESPNU
The San José State men's basketball team begins a two-game road trip on Tuesday night at San Diego State. Tipoff inside Viejas Arena is set for 8:00 p.m. (PT) on ESPNU. The game can also be heard on KLIV 1590 AM with Justin Allegri's play-by-play.
San José State (8-6, 1-3 MW) vs. San Diego State (8-7, 0-3 MW)
Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 8:00 p.m. (PT)
Viejas Arena (12,414)
San Diego, Calif.
RADIO: KLIV 1590 AM
OFF THE TOP
San Diego State owns a slight 35-34 edge over San José State in the all-time series, but has won six straight ... A win for SJSU on Tuesday would be their first against the Aztecs in San Diego since 1999 ... SJSU forward Ryan Welage averaged 16.5 points and 5.0 rebounds in two games against SDSU last season - he scored a then season-high 23 points in the meeting inside Viejas ... Brandon Clarke is averaging 19.0 ppg during conference play and doing so at a league best 61.5 percent shooting ... It is the first time SJSU has met SDSU in Mountain West play with a better conference record.
SPARTANS GET FIRST MW WIN OF THE YEAR AGAINST RIVAL BULLDOGS
The Spartans beat Fresno State 69-62 last Saturday for their first Mountain West win of the year. It marked consecutive victories over the Bulldogs for the first time since the 2009 season. San José State trailed by 15 at three different points during the first half. But Gary Williams, Jr., converted 11-of-12 free throws in the second half and SJSU got timely threes from Ryan Welage and Cody Schwartz to mount the comeback. It was Jalen James who hit the go-ahead bucket with 21 seconds remaining, and then Williams put the game away with free throws after Bulldogs head coach Rodney Terry picked up two T's and was ejected in the final seconds. Respectively
GUARD PLAY STEPS UP IN FRESNO STATE WIN
Starting guards Gary Williams, Jr., and Jalen James combined to score 30 points on 16 shots in the 69-62 win over Fresno State. James continued to shoot the ball well from the outside, nailing 2-of-2 from deep, and he hit the go-ahead jumper with 21 seconds remaining. Williams earned 11 of his career-high 18 points at the free throw line. He added two rebounds, two assists and a steal to his line which all came in just 19 minutes of action. The performance came after the two went for a combined 14 points on 6-for-21 shooting in the previous 76-71 loss to Colorado State.
Jalen James ENJOYING HIS BEST SEASON
At the beginning of the year Jalen James set out to be a veteran leader for the team's new wave of guards, and to date he's done exactly that. In his fourth year with the team, the redshirt junior has found his health and his shot. The career 30 percent 3-point shooter his connecting from downtown on 44.4 percent of his tries this year. He's is the team's top rebounding guard averaging 4.7 per game, and he just became the team's assist leader now with 39. James went beyond the numbers last game when he hit a stop-and-pop jumper to put the Spartans up 62-61 with 21 seconds remaining against Fresno State. On the ensuing Bulldogs possession James took a charge which gave SJSU the ball back for the game-icing free throws.
GOING BY FEEL
Head coach Dave Wojcik trotted out the Spartans' seventh combination of starters last time out against Fresno State. Gary Williams, Jr., returned to the starting lineup for the first time since December 7 (at Montana) and Cody Schwartz was at midcourt to begin the game for the second consecutive game after not starting all year. The combo of Isaiah Nichols, Isaac Thornton, Jaycee Hillsman, Brandon Clarke and Ryan Welage has been used the most, with Clarke being the only player to start all 14 games.
BC REMAINS SOLID
Brandon Clarke has continued to bring it in the early goings of Mountain West play - averaging 19.0 points and 7.3 rebounds through the first three games. He's managed the success against some of the conference's top big-men including the league's rebounding leader in Emmanuel Omogbo and the league's top shot blocker in Cameron Oliver. The sophomore forward has been solid on defense as well and is in Oliver's rearview mirror in the blocks category at 2.4 per game. Clarke swatted five shots in the win over Fresno State, giving him four games this year with five or more blocks.
WELY LOOKS FOR A SPARK AT VIEJAS
Sophomore forward Ryan Welage has yet to score in double-figures against a conference opponent this year, and he'll be looking to break that Tuesday inside Viejas Arena where he scored a then season-high 23 points last year. He finished that game 9-of-18 shooting and added eight rebounds, an assist and did not turn the ball over in 39 minutes of action.
TWO HALVES EQUAL A WHOLE
The challenge for San José State has been putting together two solid halves of basketball against the Aztecs. In the last three meetings dating back to the 2014-15 season, San José State has an average halftime deficit of less than two points. But in all three games SDSU has run away in the second half, outscoring SJSU by a combined 124-84 for an average of 16.7 points. This season the Spartans are just five total points behind their opponents in total points during the second half at 503-508. SJSU is outscoring its opponents 1,044-996 for the year.
SPARTANS OWN BEST TURNOVER MARGIN IN THE LEAGUE
After forcing a Mountain West season-high 23 turnovers on Fresno State, the Spartans jumped to the top of the league for their +1.9 turnover margin against opponents. Only New Mexico forces more turnovers per game at 15.0 than the Spartans' 14.9. SDSU though is right there at +1.6 in the turnover department. The Aztecs commit the second-fewest turnover per game in the league at 11.7.
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE AZTECS
San Diego State controls the all-time series by a slim margin, 35-34 - but has dominated recent history by winning six straight. SJSU's last win in the series was in 1999 in San José by a score of 82-57. A win on Tuesday would be San José State's first in San Diego since Feb. 27, 1997, when the Spartans pulled out a 65-63 Western Athletic Conference win.