Spartans Rally Before Utah State Pulls Away

Logan, Utah-----Playing without starting guard Keith Shamburger, San Jose State gave Utah State a second-half scare before the Aggies pulled away for an 82-65 Western Athletic Conference win.

            Shamburger, the Spartans' (7-15, 0-7 WAC) second leading scorer and second in the WAC in assists, missed the game due to back problems that first flared up in the January 21 game against Louisiana Tech and bothered him earlier in the week against CSU Bakersfield and Idaho.

            James Kinney and Wil Carter kept San Jose State in the game offensively with 21 and 14 points, respectively. Despite trailing 47-34 at halftime, Calvin Douglas missed a chance to tie the game at 56-56 on a 3-point basket try with just under 12 minutes remaining. A Douglas basket with 8:37 to go, left the Spartans behind by only two, 61-59.

            Then, a 16-2 run by Utah State (12-10, 4-3 WAC) gave the Aggies their 20th win in a row over the San Jose State in the sold-out Spectrum.

            "The difference in the game was their 3-point shooting. They made 10 out of  21 and we made just 5 out of 22," said San Jose State coach George Nessman. Aggie reserve guard Mitch Bruneel nailed four three-pointers in a row over a 3-minute, 25-second span allowing Utah State to break out to a 29-20 first-half advantage.

            For the game, Utah State shot made 48.3 percent of its field goal tries. San Jose State shot 42.4 percent, but made 10 of their first 19 attempts after halftime to give the Aggies a scare.

            "San Jose State is that close. They're going to win some games. They've played a lot of tough, close road games. They're going to break through. I'm glad it wasn't tonight," said Utah State coach Stew Morrill.

            Forward Kyisean Reed led five Utah State players in double-figure scoring with 21 points. Guards Brockeith Pane and Preston Medlin each had 15 to match Bruneel in the scoring column.

            "We needed to defend better. They had a good (offensive) plan for us. We changed some things at half and just said we have to guard better," Nessman said about Utah State's 47-point first half.

            D.J. Brown took over the point guard responsibilities for the sidelined Shamburger. Brown was just 1-of-10 from the field for 3 points and was credited with three assists after scoring 51 points in the previous two games.

            "Keith delivers the ball to shooters in excellent places and it helps D.J. shoot the ball better. D.J. played fine. To put him at the point and to handle this intensity, I thought he did pretty well. We only had five turnovers (as a team) for the game. I thought he handled that part of the game really well," the San Jose State coach said.

            San Jose State returns to action, Saturday, February 4, against Hawaii. Game time is 6:00 p.m. At halftime, the Spartans will retire the jersey number 45 worn by Darnell Hillman, who was the Spartans' first player to be drafted in the first-round of a NBA draft when the Golden State Warriors used that pick in 1971.