San Jose, Calif.
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LAST MEETING WITH LIFE PACIFIC COLLEGE
Single-game San José State and Mountain West records fell last season when the Spartans beat Life Pacific College 128-66 on Dec. 22, 2015. Seven San José State players finished in double-figure scoring - another school record - led by Brandon Clarke's 18 points. San José State played Life Pacific College's Pacific Coast Athletic Conference foe West Coast Baptist in the season-opener and beat them 109-70. The last time San José State scored 100 points or more twice in the same season was in 1971-72 with a 107-70 win over Cal State Hayward and a 102-62 win over Nevada.
COMMON THREADS DURING THE LAST WIN STREAK
Number one was defense - SJSU 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.) 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, and then committed a season-high 19 turnovers in the loss to Montana which snapped the streak.
HISTORIC PERFORMANCES ON DEFENSE
In consecutive wins over Idaho and Santa Clara, San José State held both opponents under 50 points - 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 SECOND IN THE CONFERENCE
San José State owns the Mountain West's best turnover margin at +2.2. The Spartans dropped from the top spot after a season-high 19 turnovers at Montana. The Spartans are forcing a league-leading 15.4 turnovers per game on their opponents and the team's 7.5 steals per game is second among the 11-team conference.
MORE MOUNTAIN WEST RANKINGS
San José State is second in the the league with an average of 11.5 offensive rebounds per game. Overall, the Spartans are sixth in the MW with a +2.4 rebounding margin. Other per-game team rankings among the conference's top-five include: Steals (7.3 - 2nd), and blocked shots (3.8 - 5th).
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
Over the last five contests Jaycee Hillsman (6-6, So., G, Champaign, Ill.) is averaging 10.0 points per game while shooting a team-best 77.8 percent (14-18) from the floor. He has also hit 20-of-22 from the free throw line during that stretch. His production using 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 currently second among all Mountain West players with a 90.6 (29-32) free throw percentage. 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 57.1 percent (20-35) and is third on the team at 8.9 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.
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.
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.
OUSTANDING TRIP 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.