Men's Hoops Descends Into The Pit Saturday For Bout With The Lobos

Frank Rogers led the Spartans with 16 point in the last meeting with New Mexico.
Feb. 12, 2016

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SPARTANS VISIT NEW MEXICO IN THE PIT SATURDAY ON ROOT SPORTS
San José State and New Mexico have one main thing in common heading into Saturday's tilt. They are both coming off of tough losses in Mountain West play. New Mexico fell at the hands of Utah State, 80-72, and the Spartans gave away a potential third straight MW win at UNLV with a 64-61 loss. Both teams will be hungry for a win, but history is on the side of the Lobos as they have never lost to the Spartans. Tipoff on ROOT Sports is set for 4:00 p.m. (MT).

 

Game #25

 

San José State (8-16, 3-9 MW) at New Mexico (14-10, 7-4 MW)
Saturday, February 13, 2016, 4:00 p.m. (MT)
WisePies Arena / The Pit (15,411)
Albuquerque, N.M.
WATCH: ROOT Sports
LISTEN: KLIV 1590 AM & Stretch Internet Radio



SJSU LETS ONE SLIP AWAY AT UNLV

San José State had UNLV down by as many as 15 points late in the first half, and led the game for a total of 33:13, but turnovers and poor free throw shooting handed UNLV the 64-61 win. The Spartans tuned the ball over six time in a matter of 2:15 beginning at the 7:47 mark. They also were 3 of 8 from the free throw line in the final four minutes of the game. Brandon Clarke finished with his fourth double-double including 15 points and 14 rebounds to lead San José State.
WELAGE GETS BACK ON TRACK
While 11 points seems pretty pedestrian for Ryan Welage this season, it was an important night for the freshman from Greensburg, Ind. Heading into the UNLV game he was 1-for-15 from beyond the arc over the previous three games, and he had been held to single-digits in points in all of those contests. At UNLV he knocked down two early threes, which helped SJSU go on a 13-0 run, and he finished the game 4 of 10.
CLARKE DOES IT AGAIN
Brandon Clarke is emerging as San José State most valuable player, proven by his performance yet again at UNLV on Wednesday night. He scored 15 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and added five assists and two blocks. Clarke's nose for the ball has gotten him multiple offensive rebounds in nine of the last 10 games. The only area he probably wishes looked better was the free throw shooting, which is at 54.2 percent for the year. He was 3 of 8 from the stripe in the UNLV loss.
LAST TIME VERSUS NEW MEXICO
The San José State offense had trouble finding its rhythm in an 83-64 loss in the last meeting with the Lobos in The Event Center on Jan. 23. Meanwhile, UNM showed why they are the league's most efficient offence, shooting 55 percent from the floor that night. Elijah Brown led the way with 33 points, and Tim Williams notched a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Rogers led San José State with 16 points and eight rebounds.
SAN JOSÉ STATE VS. NEW MEXICO
The meeting between San José State and New Mexico will be the 11th all-time in program history dating back to the 1961-62 season. The Spartans only played the Lobos once last season, ending in a 67-41 loss. It was a tightly contested game the last time UNM visited The Event Center on January 11, 2014. The Lobos pulled out a 69-65 win that night. Earlier this year, UNM defeated the Spartans, 83-64.  Last year, San José State fell at The Pit 67-41.

SPARTANS TOP BULLDOGS FOR THIRD MW WIN
Frank Rogers scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, and the Spartans hit big shot after big shot on the way to a 65-53 win over Fresno State. It was the second straight win in conference play, a feat which the team hadn't achieved sincethe 2012-13 season when it won two straight Western Athletic Conference games. Brandon Clarke scored 14 points to go along with his season-high 15 rebounds. Isaac Thornton made the play of the game when he scored a bucket, and made the foul shot. The Spartans put the game away making 14 of 15 from the line in the final 7:43. Fresno State's Marvelle Harris, the league's third-leading scorer, was held to a season-low seven points on 2 of 16 shooting.
KEYS TO VICTORY
If you're asking how the Spartans were able to pull off two MW wins in a row, the answer is defense. Air Force and Fresno State averaged just 53.5 points, which is 20.5 points below SJSU opponents' average this season. The Falcons and Bulldogs combined to shoot 31.6 percent from the floor, while SJSU shot 41.6 percent. Hayden Graham and Marvelle Harris, the leading scorers for Air Force and Fresno State respectively, were limited to a combined 4 of 27 shooting and 13 points. The defensive combination of Princeton Onwas and Jaycee Hillsman shut down Harris, the league's third-leading scorer, to the tune of a season-low seven points. Finally, San José State made 82.6 percent of its free throws (38-46), far above the regular season average of 66.7 percent.
LEADERS OVER THE LAST THREE GAMES
Cody Schwartz, since finding his stroke on Colorado State (1/27), has continued to lead SJSU in scoring over the last three games at 13.7 ppg heading into the road trip at UNLV and New Mexico. Schwartz is shooting 56.0 percent from the floor and 52.2 percent from downtown during that stretch. Brandon Clarke has grabbed 8.7 rebounds per contest over the last three to lead the team, and his 10 blocks during that span are a team-best by far. Isaac Thornton is the assist (13) and steals (6) leader during the stretch, and has made all 11 of his free throw attempts.
MEN'S HOOPS RACES TO 75-54 WIN OVER AIR FORCE
The Spartans used four consecutive three-point baskets to open up a 12-0 lead and never looked back in the 75-54 win against Air Force. Jaycee Hillsman led the way with 13 points for SJSU which had three more players finish in double-figures scoring. The Spartans' defense held Air Force to 28.6 percent shooting for the game. Isaac Thornton contributed a season-high nine rebounds, five assists and two steals. Brandon Clarke finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and a season-high five blocks.
CLARKE'S GAME IS COMING FULL CIRCLE
As the season wears on, freshman forward Brandon Clarke is beginning to fine-tune other areas of his game besides the efficient inside shooting. Clarke scored 12 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had a season-high five blocks in the win over Air Force, and backed that up with 14 points and a season-high 15 rebounds in the Fresno state win. He matched a season-high with seven offensive boards in that contest and is tied for third in that category during conference play. Clarke is averaging 11.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game over the last three contests.

JALEN FIGHTS THROUGH PAIN FOR SPARTANS' GAIN
Anyone who watched the game at Colorado State last Wednesday knows how much pain Jalen James was feeling after tweaking his ankle. But if you didn't watch that game, you would have never known that it happened based on his performance in the win over Air Force on Saturday. James scored a season-high 11 points and hit three shots from downtown to tie a career best. James was an efficient 4 of 7 from the field and managed one block, steal and assist to go along with his scoring in 11 minutes of action.
GLUE GUY
Jalen James called his teammate Isaac Thornton "the glue guy" during postgame interviews following the win over Air Force. Thornton has earned that reputation for his production in all facets of the game this season. He grabbed a season-high nine rebounds in the Air Force win. He's matched a season-high five assists in back-to-back games heading into Wednesday's tilt, and Thornton is SJSU's leader in steals with 30 this year. He has become the most trustworthy point guard option for head coach Dave Wojcik this season as far as facilitating the San José State offense.