Spartans eying first conference win in rivalry game

By Sandeep Chandok:

After an 0-2 start in conference play, San Jose State men’s basketball team will look to revive its season against rival Fresno State.

The Bulldogs are 10-5 on the season and 2-1 in the Mountain West with notable wins over Nevada and Oregon State and a respectable, three-point loss to Marquette.

Significant wins for SJSU thus far include Idaho and Washington State.

After the loss to Colorado State on Wednesday, SJSU coach Dave Wojcik said defending is crucial to winning games.

“At the end of the day, it all comes down on the defensive side of the ball,” Wojcik said. “You have to get stops and you have to get rebounds.”

Wojcik is right, and the Spartans will surely be tested defensively versus a Bulldog team which features four players averaging 12-plus points in guards Jaron Hopkins and Jahmel Taylor and forwards Paul Watson and Karachi Edo.

The toughest part for SJSU in this matchup is that Fresno State plays inside and out so the Spartans will have to be quick to close out on shooters and have to wall up on bigs down low.

Another key to a Spartan victory will be offensive production.

In SJSU’s last game, nine players logged at least 12 minutes but only three scored in double-figures. Brandon Clarke had 24 and the next closest was E.J. Boyce with 12, although Boyce averages only three points a game.

Clarke has been “the guy” for the Spartans this season, but what will happen if he has an off game? Who will step up and be a playmaker for a team lacking consistent firepower?

Ryan Welage, despite having struggled against Colorado State, is the second leading scorer (12.5 ppg) for the Spartans and will try to bounce back against the Bulldogs.

Aside from Clarke and Welage, no other Spartan averages over 10 points a game.

It’s commendable that Wojcik has confidence enough in his team to play numerous guys, but numbers talk at the end of the day.

A win over Fresno State would surely ignite SJSU as it progresses into conference play.

On the flip side, a loss would put the Spartans at 7-7 on the season but securing the win and rising to 8-6 would make SJSU’s fans a lot happier.

The game will begin at 2 PM in San Jose at The Event Center.



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