SPARTANS AND FALCONS SET FOR A CLASH AT HIGH NOON
San José State men's basketball fans can watch the team during their brunch on Saturday as the Spartans travel to Air Force for an 12:00 p.m. (MT) tipoff on the MW Digital Network. The Spartans hope to even their record in Mountain West play after dropping their opener to Utah State Wednesday night. It is the first taste of MW action for Air Force. Justin Allegri will have the call on both KLIV 1590 AM and Stretch Internet Radio.
SPARTANS DROP MW OPENER TO UTAH STATE
The Spartans were down by as many as 16 early in the second half, but used an 11-2 run to charge back and cut the lead to four points. But that was as close as SJSU would get, and despite Frank Rogers' game-high 23 points, SJSU fell to Utah State for the 17th straight time, 80-71. It was the Mountain West-leading sixth double-double of the season for Rogers, and his third game of the year with 20+ points.
LOOKING FOR MORE RUNS AND LESS DROUGHTS
San José State has made their fair share of runs in the past few games, but they've had equally as many scoring droughts that have been costly. In a three-point loss at Seattle U (12/20), the Spartans saw a 10-point lead evaporate in a matter a 1:22 down the stretch of the second half. Against Utah State is was SJSU that made a 16-point lead nearly disappear with an 11-2 run. However Utah State's next basket started a 14-2 run of their own, during which San José State was scoreless for 4:36.
SAN JOSÉ STATE VS. AIR FORCE
The Spartans and Falcons first met at the academy on December 6, 1971, ending in a 74-67 SJSU win. San José State won both meetings during the 1996-97 season, but has since lost four straight since joining the Mountain West in 2013-14. Last season, Air Force defeated San José State 78-56 at home and 66-52 in the Event Center. Saturday will be the eighth meeting between the programs and the all-time series stands at 4-3 in Air Force's favor.
IT HAPPENED AGAINST AIR FORCE
Olivier Saint-Jean, one of San José State's 14 players with over 1,000 career points, scored 37 in an 88-77 win over Air Force on February 13, 1997. At the time, it was the fourth-most points in a single-game by a Spartan. Ironically, that was the last time San José State beat Air Force. Saint-Jean, who later changed his name to Tariq Abdul-Wahad, went on to play eight seasons in the NBA after the Sacramento Kings selected him with the 11th overall pick in the 1997 draft.
CIRCLE THE MATCHUP - ROGERS VS. GRAHAM
Frank Rogers for the Spartans and Hayden Graham for Air Force have very similar numbers in the stat sheet - 15.2 points, 8.2 rebounds per game for the SJSU big man, and 15.4 points, 8.0 rebounds per contest for Air Force's 6-foot-5 junior. Both players are shooting over 50 percent from the floor this season and both are capable of hitting the three. Rogers has four inches on Graham, so he may see more of Air Force's 6-foot-11 center Zach Moer. Nonetheless, Rogers and Graham are capable of going bucket-for-bucket during Saturday's tilt.
ROGERS REMAINS THE SPARTANS' LEADER
Despite commanding extra focus recently from the opposition, senior Frank Rogers remains San José State's leader at 15.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. 23 points and 11 rebounds versus Utah State gave the Salinas, Calif., native a Mountain West-leading sixth double-double. The 6-foot-9 Rogers has scored in double-figures nine times this year including three 20-point games and a career-high 32 points in a win over Alaska-Anchorage. Rogers is shooting 56 percent from the field heading into Saturday's game at Air Force.
TOUGH TIMES AT THE LINE
The Spartans missed nine free throws in the 80-71 loss to Utah State on Wednesday. The team which shoots .449 from the field (5th in the MW) is last in the conference with a .659 percentage from the line.
A RECORD-SETTING DAY IN SAN JOSE
San José State set school and Mountain West scoring records for most points scored in a game with a 128-66 victory of Life Pacific College last week on Dec. 22. The Spartans topped the previous MW record of 124 scored by UNLV in a win over Central Arkansas on December 28, 2011. The previous SJSU record was 114 points against Idaho State in 1966. A school-record seven players finished in double-figures scoring, led by Cody Schwartz's season-high 20. The Spartans snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory of Life Pacific College of the National Christian College Athletic Association.
SCHWARTZ COMING INTO HIS OWN AS CONFERENCE PLAY ARRIVES
In the final three nonconference games, freshman forward Cody Schwartz led the Spartans averaging 17.0 points per contest. He did it efficiently too, shooting at a 62 percent (18-29) clip from the field and 52 percent (11-21) from downtown. He's coming off of a season-high 20 points versus Life Pacific College, where he was 8 of 11 from the field. These numbers for the 6-foot-8 Schwartz are a vast turnaround from his pale beginning to the season that included a 1-for-11 mark during the first three games.
SCHWARTZ & CLARKE WORKING INSIDE OUT
Leading up to conference play freshmen forwards Cody Schwartz and Brandon Clarke have been a nice duo with two different skill sets that compliment each other. Schwartz is a deep threat shooting over 50 percent from beyond the arc in the last three games, and Clarke is a physical cutter in the paint averaging 10.7 points on 61 percent shooting in that same span. The 6-foot-9 Clarke's length and bounce has helped the Spartans' defense, which held Seattle U to 27 percent shooting in the first half and Life Pacific College to 35 percent from the field for the game.
WELAGE NOTCHES THIRD DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Freshman forward Ryan Welage notched his third double-double of the season last week with 15 points and 11 rebounds versus Life Pacific College. Three double-doubles trails only UNLV's Stephen Zimmerman Jr., with four, among all Mountain West freshmen.
SPARTANS TURN TO EXPERIENCE
You've noticed a trend since the top of the page - Freshmen. But amid the most recent success of the Spartan youngsters has been a lineup switch involving San José State's most experienced player in Isaac Thornton. After starting the year as a role player off the bench, Thornton has started the last four games at the point. The first two of those contests he averaged 30.5 minutes and captained the offense. While SJSU lost both of those games against Montana State (12/13) and Seattle U (12/20), the 6-foot-2 Thornton shot 10 of 15 from the floor, averaged 13 points, four assists and 2.5 steals. He went for a career-high 17 points at Seattle U. Thornton, with 72 games and 47 starts in his career, was able to take a bit of a rest against Life Pacific College, logging just 15 minutes.