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#11-SPARTANS COLLIDE WITH #6-RAMS IN THE OPENING ROUND OF #MWMADNESS Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year Brandon Clarke and the #11-San José State Spartans go toe-to-toe with#6-Colorado State Rams Wednesday in the opening round of the Mountain West Championship. Both teams come riding into the championship after victories in their regular season finales. The Rams took both games during the regular season, which were both fast-paced and high scoring. Princeton Onwas, who averaged 22.0 points per game in the two meetings will hope to be more than just a thorn in CSU's side and lead SJSU to its first victory at a conference tournament since 2011.
Game #31 Mountain West Championship Opening Round #11-San José State (9-21, 4-14 MW) vs. #6-Colorado State (16-15, 8-10 MW) Wednesday, March 9, 2016, 4:00 p.m. (PST) Thomas & Mack Center (18,000) Las Vegas, Nev. WATCH: Mountain West Network LISTEN: Stretch Internet Radio
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT HISTORY
San José State is making its second appearance at the Mountain West Championship. The Spartans fell to Boise State 83-52 in the opening round of the 2014-15 championship in their only other showing since joining the MW. The last time San José State won at a conference tournament was the 2010-11 season when the team beat Hawai'i (75-74) and Idaho (74-68) at the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
CLARKE IS THE MW'S SIXTH-MAN OF THE YEAR
San José State's 6-foot-9 forward, Brandon Clarke, made history when he was announced as the Mountain West's first-ever freshman to win the Sixth Man of the Year award. The Phoenix, Ariz., native averaged 10.1 points and 7.3 rebounds per game during conference play while leading the team with 30 blocks. His 37 total blocks are an SJSU freshman single-season record. All five of Clarke's double-doubles came against Mountain West foes, including a season-high 21 points and 10 rebounds in the 68-63 victory over Boise State. Clarke is the first freshman to win the award since its inception in 2008-09.
SPARTANS END REGULAR SEASON WITH SIGNITURE WIN
Clutch free throw shooting and solid defense led to a 68-63 victory over Boise State in the regular season finale at home on Senior Day. Princeton Onwas made the best of his senior day by scoring 10 straight points for the Spartans during crunch time. Eight of those points came from the free throw line, where Onwas was shooting just 58.9 percent on the year. He finished the game 12 of 14 from the stripe. Another senior, Ivo Basor, made his only start of the year and took a charge in the first 30 second on Boise State's James Webb III. That was significant because it set the tone for SJSU, and the Broncos ended up playing the final 6:09 without Webb III after he picked up his fifth foul.
WHAT THE WIN MEANS
The win over Boise State was meaningful on a number of levels. First, it puts the Spartans at a 7.0 game turnaround from a season ago, which currently ranks 36th in the country among 353 Division I teams. Then, although it's now a distant memory, San José State lost to Boise State by 50 last season, and even this year they lost by 25 back in January. Finally, it was head coach Dave Wojcik's first victory against the team and the head coach which he assisted for three seasons prior to becoming a Spartan.
TRIAL BY FIRE
San José State's four true freshmen: Ryan Welage, Cody Schwartz, Brandon Clarke and Jaycee Hillsman have combined to account for 43.5 percent of the team's scoring in 2015-16. That's second in the country, trailing only Kentucky with 49.4 percent of scoring coming from true freshmen. San José State's mark is by far the highest percentage among Mountain West teams, with UNLV next at 32.7 percent.
SAN JOSÉ STATE VS. COLORADO STATE
San José State is looking for its first win against Colorado State Saturday when the two programs will meet for the 13th time. Colorado State picked up two wins against the Spartans this season by an average margin of 4.5 points. Prior to this season, the average margin of victory for CSU over SJSU was 17.5 points (4 games).
In the two regular season meetings between San José State and Colorado State, senior guard Princeton Onwas averaged 22.0 points per game. He went for a career-high 24 when the teams met inside The Event Center, which went the way of the Rams, 85-84 in overtime.
SPARTANS DROP HEARTBREAKER TO CSU
If there is one shot that Jaycee Hillsman wants back, it's the final shot of the game against Colorado State when the teams met in San Jose. It was an open leaner inside the paint which rolled off the rim as time expired in overtime, handing the Rams an 85-84 victory. It was San José State's closest game of the season which it did not win. John Gillon hit a jumper in the paint at the buzzer to send the contest into overtime. Princeton Onwas scored a career-high 24 points in the game giving SJSU four players in double-figure scoring.
THE TWO REGULAR SEASON MEETINGS
Colorado State won both meetings by a combined nine points. Game one in San Jose went to overtime, ending in an 85-84 CSU win. Colorado State finished the regular season with the second-most threes made, but the Spartans held them to 12 of 40 from downtown in the two regular season meetings. SJSU shot 45.3 percent from the floor while CSU managed a 47.0 percent clip. The Rams were 41 of 50 from the free throw line, while the Spartans were 26 of 36. Colorado State controlled the rebounding total, 73-67.
WHEN HE'S HOT.. HE'S HOT
Spartan freshman Cody Schwartz is shooting just 34.9 percent from downtown this season, but that's no indication of how badly he can hurt the opponent from beyond the arc. Schwartz has hit three or more shots from deep in nine games this season. He connected on a season-high six from deep on the road at Colorado State (1/27). He knocked down four in the first half alone against San Diego State (2/21), helping the Spartans erase a 14-point deficit. The ESPN four-star recruit from West De Pere, Wis., has been a game-changer this season with his bursts from downtown.