By Kavin Mistry:
SAN DIEGO, CA – Tonight, San Jose State showed that without Brandon Clarke, they cannot function offensively.
Despite a big game from the sophomore forward, Clarke’s first half foul trouble (three in the first six minutes) disrupted the Spartans’ flow and the team couldn’t recover in the second falling short in San Diego State 73-61.
He finished the game with 25 points on 11-15 shooting, seven rebounds and four assists, primarily in the second half.
The spotlight was on SJSU Tuesday night as they played on national television for the first time this season.
Foul trouble plagued the Spartans in the first half, who were trying to trade baskets with the Aztecs, but three fouls picked up by Clarke changed the game.
Clarke was hot out of gate, perfect from the field and seven points before having to sit six minutes into the game. The Spartans were within two points when he had to come off.
After last game head coach Dave Wojcik preached the Spartans will only win if they are able to not rely on Clarke. Without the Spartans’ number one option on the floor, SJSU got sloppy with the ball, committing ten turnovers.
The Aztecs turned those turnovers into 12 points.
The biggest aid to the Spartans efforts was SDSU’s inability to convert on the foul line. The Aztecs shot 10-16 from the line in the first half.
The Spartans shooting hit a major dry spell midway through the first half, going over six minutes without converting a field goal. Majority of that slide was due to not having Clarke on the floor as a bail out offensively or drawing a double team.
The second half, SJSU with Clarke on the floor looked like a different team. The Spartans brought the game within 13 points before the Aztecs took charge.
The problem for SJSU was giving up too many easy buckets at the rim. SDSU used those easy buckets to open up the outside game and by then it was too late for the Spartans to keep up.
On offense, the Spartans lacked any confidence shooting the ball, finishing the game with an poor 38% from the floor.
The win was much needed for SDSU who was the only Mountain West team without a conference win. As for SJSU, it will look to bounce back on Saturday and keep pace with the others in the conference when they face Air Force on the road to close out the week.