College Basketball Nation: San Jose State Spartans's WAC preview

November, 2, 2012
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Western Athletic Conference, here is Eamonn Brennan's quick wind sprint through the league:

Here are Blue Ribbon's in-depth previews of all 10 WAC teams: Insider

Louisiana Tech
New Mexico State
San Jose State InsiderFree Seattle
Texas State
UT Arlington
Utah State
UTSA's WAC preview

October, 27, 2011
Before we get to the Blue Ribbon team-by-team previews for the Western Athletic Conference, here is Diamond Leung's quick wind sprint through the league:

Blue Ribbon breakdowns of all eight teams in the WAC:

Fresno State
Louisiana Tech
Nevada InsiderFree
New Mexico State
San Jose State
Utah State

More WAC content:

The numbers you need to know

February, 16, 2011
An inside look at the numbers behind Tuesday's top performances:

1. St. John’s just keeps getting it done. On Tuesday, it was an 80-68 road win against Marquette. The Red Storm has now won five of its last six, including wins over Duke and Connecticut and road wins over Marquette and Cincinnati. No one has played a bigger role than Dwight Hardy. After 28 points last night, the senior is averaging 25.3 over his last six games. Having played the second-toughest schedule in the nation, St. John’s is now 15th in the InsideRPI. With DePaul, Seton Hall and South Florida still to come, 11 wins in the Big East is well within reach.

2. Villanova’s James Bell almost doubled his season scoring total in Tuesday’s 60-57 win at Seton Hall. The freshman scored 21 points after entering the game with just 31 on the season. Connecting on 4-of-6 from 3-point range, he more than doubled his previous career-high of 10. Prior to this, he’d only appeared in nine Big East games thus far, totaling 12 points. With Corey Stokes injured, Bell was a surprise candidate to pick up the scoring load. However, the Wildcats received a sloppy game from guards Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns, who combined for 12 of their season-high 22 turnovers.

3. With 12-3 VCU hosting 13-2 George Mason, Tuesday’s CAA matchup was one of the most highly anticipated games of the night. That is, until VCU forgot to show up at home. The Rams shot just 29.6 percent in the first half, ultimately losing 71-51. VCU’s starters combined to score only 22 points on 22.6 percent from the field. Meanwhile, George Mason set a school record with its 12th straight win, the longest active streak in the nation. For a player who didn’t hit a field goal, Luke Hancock had a great all-around game. Though 0-for-5 from the field, he went 10-for-10 from the line. He finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

4. Michigan State came up short against Ohio State despite a great shooting night. The Spartans shot a season-best 57.4 percent from the field, but still lost. In fact, it’s their highest shooting percentage in a loss in the past 15 seasons. They are now 69-3 when shooting over 55 percent in those years. It’s the second time this season that Ohio State has withstood a great shooting night for a win. Back in November, Florida shot 61.2 percent but still lost by 18 points.

5. Several players put up career-best scoring games to carry their teams on Tuesday. Denzel Bowles scored 40 points as James Madison handed Towson its 15th straight loss. He’s just the seventh player in school history to reach that total. VMI came up with a big conference win over Liberty thanks to 39 from Austin Kenon, who was 8-for-16 from 3-point range. Adrian Oliver’s 35 against Montana State wasn’t a career-high, but it did lead San Jose State to a 77-73 win. Oliver is averaging 28.3 ppg in four games this month.

Utah State quietly keeps on winning

January, 28, 2011

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- BYU is the talk of the nation, but have you heard? There’s another team in the state that’s making some noise.

It’s Utah State that has the nation’s third-longest active winning streak, and the Aggies stretched that to 14 games after handling their business in an 84-65 win at San Jose State on Thursday.

Peaking once again during WAC play, the 19-2 Aggies are ranked No. 25 and don’t really mind that BYU is the team leading the local newscasts and overshadowing some of their success.

“I feel like it has, but that’s fine,” said Utah State forward Tai Wesley, who has been following what he calls the Jimmer Show. “We don’t care about attention. We care about wins.”

[+] EnlargeUtah State's Brockeith Pane
Phil Carter/US PRESSWIREBrockeith Pane and Utah State improved to a perfect 8-0 in the WAC with a win over San Jose State.
The only two teams Utah State has lost to this season? BYU and Georgetown, both ranked teams that got to play the Aggies at home. They haven’t lost since the Hoyas blew them out on Dec. 4, but have improved during the latest streak.

The last time the defending regular-season WAC champs played San Jose State -- and won by nine on New Years’ Eve -- coach Stew Morrill blew his top in the halftime locker room speech.

“He went nuts,” Wesley said. “He was kicking over stools, spitting and yelling. I don’t know how many episodes like that he has left.”

Said Morrill: “We’re really a team that has to defend and play hard. I didn’t think our energy level was up. I have a hard time when my teams don’t play hard.”

The Aggies have won all but one of their games since then by double digits, and by beating San Jose State, which was without injured point guard Justin Graham, they’ve now won 22 straight WAC games and 34 of their past 36 regular-season games.

Wesley, the WAC’s preseason player of the year as voted on by the league’s coaches, has been dominant down low with his .608 field-goal percentage. Nate Bendall has played through foot pain to bolster the frontcourt along with Brady Jardine, who is tied as the team leader in rebounds with Wesley.

The player that gives Utah State an extra boost in athleticism is point guard Brockeith Pane, a junior college transfer who played his freshman season at Houston.

“We got to earn people’s respect,” said Pane, who scored 13 points against San Jose State. “If we continue to bring it, the sky’s the limit.”

Brian Green came off the bench to score a career-high 25 points, hitting all five of his 3-point attempts, but don’t expect many Jimmer-like single-game numbers for a program known for its methodical play.

The Aggies do have experience with winning and are showing it right now.

“We got a lot of seniors and leadership,” Wesley said. “Each game we’re getting better.”

The numbers you need to know

January, 7, 2011
An inside look at some of Thursday's top performances:

1. Arizona's Derrick Williams had a career-high 31 points (including 19 in the second half), as the Wildcats held off Cal 73-71. The sophomore broke his own school record by attempting 22 free throws, of which he made 16. Averaging 9.5 attempts per game, Williams gets to the line more than any other power conference player. In fact, Rice’s Arsalan Kazemi (9.7) is the only player in the nation who spends more time at the line. If Williams keeps up this rate, he’d be the first Pac-10 player since Leon Powe in 2005 to average nine or more free throw attempts per game. Just how important is his performance at the line? Williams is shooting 81.9 percent from the charity stripe in Arizona’s wins, but just 52.0 percent in losses.

2. Illinois set a school-record by shooting 70.5 percent from the field in its 88-63 win against Northwestern. It topped a 1985 game in which the Illini shot 69.1 percent. The Big Ten hasn’t seen a conference game like this since 2004, when Michigan State shot 73.3 percent against Ohio State in 2004. Thursday’s performance also marked the second-highest field goal percentage in a game this season behind SMU’s 72.3 percent against Lamar in November. The Illini hit 18 of their first 22 shots (81.8 pct) to take a 23-point halftime lead. Through three Big Ten games, Illinois is shooting 64.7 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

3. Northern Arizona avoided an 0-3 start to its Big Sky schedule with an 82-80 overtime win against Idaho State. Cameron Jones was the hero with 31 of his career-high 37 points coming after halftime. However, the more interesting scoring line came from teammate Stallon Saldivar. The sophomore point guard handed out a career-high 13 assists, but didn’t score a single point. It’s the most assists in a scoreless game since Charlotte’s DiJuan Harris had 15 back in 2009. Saldivar also didn’t have a turnover in this one, giving him the most assists without a turnover in a game this season. While several players have matched his 13, the last player to put up more assists without a turnover was UTEP’s Filiberto Rivera with 18 in 2005. On the season, Saldivar has a 3.54 assist-to-turnover ratio, sixth-best in the nation.

4. Boise State needed four overtimes to top San Jose State 102-101, a game that resulted in a bevy of fun facts. It marked the Broncos' longest-ever game, and matched a record set in 1985 for SJSU. The Spartans scored more than 100 points for the first time since 1979, a stretch of 914 games. San Jose State’s Justin Graham played all 60 minutes and matched his career-high with 29 points. The Spartans played all of the extra frames without Adrian Oliver, the nation’s third-leading scorer. Boise State’s marathon man was Paul Noonan, who finished with 20 points and nine rebounds in 57 minutes. The Broncos missed six of 10 free throws in the final two minutes of regulation, but then hit 12 of 14 in the overtimes.

5. Imagine your starting lineup scoring only 15 points. Now imagine actually winning that game. That’s what happened in Alabama State’s 50-47 victory against Grambling State. The Hornets starters combined to shoot 4-for-18 from the field and 6-for-17 from the line. The 15 points from the starters is fewest in a win since last season when St. John’s beat Cincinnati despite just 13 points out of its starting lineup. Alabama State is the lowest-scoring team in the nation (52.9 ppg), and its starters only average 25.9 ppg, the fewest in the nation. At just 8.0 ppg, Kenderek Washington is the leading scorer for the Hornets, a team that made the NCAA tournament in 2009.