Spartans Take Win Streak On The Road To Montana

The Spartan defense held Santa Clara to 28.3 percent shooting last Saturday night.
Dec. 5, 2016

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SPARTANS TAKE WIN STREAK ON THE ROAD TO MONTANA
The San José State men's basketball team will try and make it four wins in a row on Wednesday night when it travels to the University of Montana for a 7:00 p.m. (MT) tipoff. The Spartans will be trying to win a fourth straight game for the first time since 2011, while the Grizzlies will try to avenge the 64-61 loss suffered last season inside The Event Center. Fans can listen to the game on KLIV 1590 AM. To watch the game, fans must purchase the 24-hour subscription on GoGriz.com.
 
Game #8
San José State (4-3) at University of Montana (2-6)
Wednesday, December 7, 2016, 7:00 p.m. (MT)
Dahlberg Arena (7,322)
Missoula, Mont.
 
 
SPARTANS CLAMP DOWN ON SANTA CLARA
San José State allowed Santa Clara to only make three field goals in the second half of Saturday's 55-40 win. The Broncos didn't hit their first shot of the second period until the 7:37 mark. Meanwhile SJSU put together an 18-0 run which spanned both halves. The closest Santa Clara could get was 12 points with 6:45 left to play. Santa Clara finished the game shooting 28.3 percent (13-46) from the floor. Ryan Welage and Isaiah Nichols led the Spartans with 12 points apiece - Welage's fourth straight game as the team's scoring leader.
 
WINNERS OF THREE IN A ROW
San José State heads into Wednesday's game on a three-game win streak after victories over Washington State, the University of Idaho and Santa Clara. It is the first three-game win streak against Division I opponents since December of 2012 when the Spartans defeated Montana State (12/1), UC Davis (12/5) and Sacramento State (12/8). A win at Montana would make it four in a row for the first time since February of 2011.
 
COMMON THREADS DURING THE STREAK
Number one is defense - SJSU has held opponents during the streak to 33.3 percent shooting (54-162) and 25.4 percent from 3-point range. Ryan Welage (6-9, So., F, Greensburg, Ind.) has led the team in scoring all three games, averaging 15.7 points. Welage and Brandon Clarke (6-8, So., F, Phoenix, Ariz.) grabbed a team-leading 7.7 rebounds per game, helping the Spartans outrebound all three opponents. The Spartans took good care of the basketball, averaging 10.6 turnovers per game. The team was averaging 14.0 turnovers per game before the win streak began.
 
HISTORIC PERFORMANCES ON DEFENSE
In two wins last week, San José State held the University of Idaho to 49 points and Santa Clara to 40 points. It was the first time since the 1999-2000 season that the Spartans won back-to-back games while holding the opponents under 50 points. Before that, it hadn't been done since December of 1981. The Santa Clara game was the first time SJSU held a Division I opponent to 40 points or less since Feb. 18, 1961, in a 40-39 loss to San Francisco.
 
TURNOVER MARGIN TOPS IN THE CONFERENCE
San José State owns the Mountain West's best turnover margin at +2.9. While averaging 12.6 turnovers per game, the Spartans are forcing a league-leading 15.4 turnovers per game on their opponents. The team's 7.3 steals per game is second among the 11-team conference.
 
MORE MOUNTAIN WEST RANKINGS
San José State is leading the league with an average of 11.7 offensive rebounds per game. Overall, the Spartans are fourth in the MW with a +3.9 rebounding margin. Other per-game team rankings among the conference's top-five include: Steals (7.3 - 2nd), scoring offense (67.0 - 4th) and blocked shots (3.9 - 4th).
 
FIVE SINGLE-GAME HIGHS
San José State owns five individual single-game highs so far this year in the Mountain West:
- 12 field goals made by Brandon Clarke vs. Portland, 11/15
- 26 field goals attempted by Brandon Clarke vs. Portland, 11/15
- 6 3-point field goals made by E.J. Boyce vs. West Coast Baptist, 11/12
- 10 assists by Isaiah Nichols vs. Portland, 11/15
- 6 blocks by Brandon Clarke at Idaho, 11/29

HILLSMAN'S NEW APPROACH PAYING DIVIDENDS
In the last three games Jaycee Hillsman (6-6, So., G, Champaign, Ill.) averaged 9.0 points per game while shooting 7-for-8 from the floor and 13-of-15 from the free throw line. Taking higher-percentage shots around the basket and drawing fouls have been the biggest additions to his game from a year ago as a freshman. He is 29-of-32 (.906) from the line this season. Last year he took more outside shots and finished shooting 31.0 percent and averaging 4.5 points per game. So far in 2016-17, he's shooting 54.8 percent (17-31) and is third on the team at 9.1 points per game.

MITCHELL BECOMES MORE THAN A SPARK
Brandon Mitchell (6-6, Jr., F, Memphis, Tenn.) was an excellent spark off the bench in the win at Washington State with six rebounds, a put-back basket and a pair of blocks. Since then the Spartans have come to depend on him for timely plays - Like his 3-pointer that trimmed Santa Clara's first-half lead to six points and swung the momentum SJSU's way for the ensuing 18-0 run - and an offensive rebound plus the put-back which gave SJSU the lead for good with 10:20 left in the first half at Idaho.

CLIPS FROM THE FIRST ROAD TRIP
San José State's first road trip of the year included wins against Washington State (88-76) and Idaho (58-49). Back-to-back victories away from home hadn't happened since December of 2012 when the Spartans beat Texas State (12/29) and UT Arlington (12/31). SJSU dropped the first contest of the three-game trip to Saint Mary's, currently ranked 12th in the country, 81-64. Despite the loss SJSU hung tight with the Gaels through 30 minutes of the game, which had 11 lead changes and was tied six times. San José State found some mojo against one of the country's best teams and used it to begin a three-game winning streak.
 
KEYS TO SUCCESS ON THE ROAD
Four things that really stood out about the Spartans on their one and only road trip this season were: second-chance points, bench production, getting to the free throw line and taking care of the basketball. San José State averaged 14.3 second-chance points per game on the trip, while the opponents averaged 7.0. The Spartan bench outscored the opponents 71-44, including a 32-10 advantage in the win over Washington State. Behind Jaycee Hillsman's 22 attempts, SJSU averaged 19.3 free throw tries per game - making 77.6 percent (45-58). Finally, San José State had a season-low eight turnovers at Washington State and finished the trip averaging just 9.0 turnovers per game.
 
CLARKE SAYS NO NO NO TO IDAHO
Brandon Clarke blocked four shots in the final 5:35 of the win at Idaho. All four times a Vandals player challenged him with a layup or dunk at the rim, they were denied. Clarke finished the game with a SJSU single-game record-tying six swats. He also hit a floater in the lane within the last couple of minutes that helped SJSU keep the edge for a 58-49 victory.
 
SPARTANS TAKE DOWN WASHINGTON STATE
San José State beat Washington State 88-76 on Sunday afternoon for the first win against the Cougars since 1990 and the first win against a Pac-12 team since 2010. Ryan Welage and Brandon Clarke both finished with a double-double, and that was only the surface of a very balanced offensive performance for the Spartans who had five players in double-figure scoring. There were six lead changes in the game and they were all within the first 10 minutes of the opening period. From there, it was all San José State.
 
OUSTANDING WEEK FOR WELAGE
A tough shooting night at Idaho (6-19) was the only blemish on an outstanding road trip for Ryan Welage who led the team in scoring during all three games. He extended his season-high in points with 17 at Saint Mary's and then extended it again with 20 at Washington State. He pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds for a double-double in the win over the Cougars. Welage averaged 17.3 points and 8.0 rebounds on the trip, but his best stat was just one turnover in 94 minutes played.
  
SERIES HISTORY WITH MONTANA
The Spartans and Grizzlies are all even, 6-6, in the all-time series which dates back to the 1948-49 season. San José State has won the previous two meetings including last year's 64-61 victory inside The Event Center. The Spartans are 2-3 on the road against Montana.
 
LAST MEETING WITH MONTANA
The last meeting with Montana in the second game of last season resulted in a 64-61 SJSU win. The victory was significant as it ended a 21-game losing streak dating back to the previous season. Ryan Welage and Frank Rogers both had a double-double in the game.
 
MORE ON THE GRIZZLIES
After losing four straight to begin the year, the Grizzlies have gone 2-2 in their last four games for a 2-6 overall record. Montana defeated Milwaukee, 75-69, at home in their most recent contest on Dec. 3. Before San José State went on the road and beat Washington State, the Cougars defeated Montana 87-63 in Pullman, Wash., on Nov. 19. Ahmaad Rorie leads the team in scoring at 14.6 points per game.