By Kavin Mistry:
Wednesday night was a rude awakening for a team that had excelled over the past few weeks — shooting the ball and playing strong defense.
Head coach Dave Wojcik said in the opening week of the season that he wanted his team to face some adversity in order to grow as a whole.
Nevada provided that and more.
SJSU couldn’t keep up with Wolfpack offense that was taking the ball to the rim on seemingly every play, leaving the Spartans with no option but to foul.
“We didn’t play like ourselves,” said junior guard Jalen James. “Quick shots that led to Nevada’s transition game and we were not playing like the Spartans we know.”
Nevada showed why it is on top of the Mountain West, scoring the first basket of the game and never losing the lead.
The Spartans did not look prepared for the matchup right from the opening tip, missing open looks and allowing Nevada to score easily, despite struggling from the mid-range.
“That is a team that is very good,” said sophomore forward Brandon Clarke. “We just really have to come back together and fix the issues that we had a couple nights ago.”
In the second half the Spartans’ frustration started to show which led to an altercation between James and a few Nevada players. Four technical fouls were handed out, two to James which ended his night.
“I was just jawing at some of the guys on Nevada and I was trying to stick up for my teammates,” James said. “I guess I took it too far. I just have to be smarter, I am a veteran player and I have to make the right choices.”
At the point of the ejection the Spartans were down 16, afterwards Nevada went on a run and pushed the lead to as high as 26.
“I got to know situations,” James said. “That was a situation where I have to bring my team together and make the right choices and I didn’t do that.”
James left the game having a tough shooting night, 3-7 from the field and 0-2 from beyond the arc.
“Basketball is a game with a lot of emotion, so I wasn’t shocked,” Clarke said. “Just a couple players fighting and a lot of emotion which comes from the game. We just have to be smarter about it.”
James and Clarke both talked about how the team realizes how it needs to improve and the focus has turned completely to Colorado State.
Both Wojcik (postgame) and Clarke said the biggest part of the loss was the separation of the team. They felt that they, as a unit, did not play well together and it was indicative on the result of their play.
It will be important for the team to understand the competition level it takes to be a top team in the conference going forward and understand that success in the Mountain West is no easy task.
San Jose State will play its next game on Wednesday at home against Colorado State.