By Sandeep Chandok:
San Jose State men’s basketball is back in the Event Center this week after a short, two-game road trip that saw a loss to San Diego State and a win over Air Force.
SJSU’s first battle of the week is against a Wyoming team (12-6, 2-3) whose most notable game of the season so far is a two-point overtime loss to the USC Trojans who were ranked #23 in the AP poll at the time.
Wyoming also suffered a 15-point letdown to Fresno State whom SJSU beat by seven earlier in January.
Nonetheless, the Cowboys are six games over .500 and their balanced scoring attack is a key reason as to why.
Sophomore guard Justin James is averaging 15.3 ppg while his fellow backcourt mate, senior Jason McManamen, is contributing 12.9 ppg of his own. In addition to the steady scoring backcourt, junior forward Hayden Dalton has been a driving force in on the boards, scoring 13.2 ppg and grabbing 8.4 rpg.
Did I mention juniors Alan Herndon and Alexander Aka Gorski also score over 10 ppg? That’s five total players who collectively average 62 a game.
For the Spartans, Brandon Clarke has been the main man posting a nightly 18.1 pts/7.5 reb/2.6 b and his performance last week earned him his second Mountain West player of the week award. Ryan Welage, Jalen James and Gary Williams Jr. have played well all season, too, but should certainly be scoring more with their skillsets.
SJSU’s five leading scorers combine for only 52.3 ppg — nearly 10 points less than Wyoming’s — but Clarke and Welage are the only ones in double figures for the blue and gold.
Despite a lack of balanced scoring, Williams said following the Fresno State game that head coach Dave Wojcik is all about defense anyways.
“All he (Wojcik) preach is defense,” Williams said. “He really doesn’t care about anything else because our defense really can create our offense.”
Defense does lead to offense in nearly all sports and in basketball, a game of runs, getting stops on key possessions and creating turnovers are monumental to winning games.
At 9-7 on the season, a win tonight would be the Spartans’ tenth and would surpass their win total from last season. The last time SJSU won at least 10 games was during the 2010-11 season when it went 17-16.
SJSU will tip-off with Wyoming at 7 p.m. tonight in San Jose.