By Ryan Vermont
After a 76-71 loss at home against Colorado State just 21 days ago, the San Jose State men’s basketball team will again go head-to-head with the Rams, this time in Fort Collins, with yet another opportunity to earn its first ever win against the Rams the Spartans are 0-14 all-time.
The teams last played on Jan. 4 and this will be the first rematch in conference play for either the Spartans or the Rams this season. In that game, SJSU had multiple chances to tie the score in the final minute but couldn’t get a shot to drop.
In an area the Spartans obviously have some struggles with, the Spartans battled hard against the conference’s top rebounder Emmanuel Omogbo, and were only -4 in the rebounding category.
San Jose State lost because of its inability to shut down the Rams’ several capable scorers as well. It also didn’t help that the Spartans went just 9 of 26 from the three-point-line (34 percent).
Brandon Clarke scored a game-high 24, but didn’t have much support on the offensive end. EJ Boyce finished with 12 points and Jalen James 10, but the Rams had four players in double figures – J.D. Paige 18, Prentiss Nixon 18, Gian Clavell 15, Omogbo 13.
Things have changed however since the first meeting less than one month ago.
Following a 0-2 start in the Mountain West (Colorado State and Nevada), SJSU won two of its next three, beating Fresno State and Air Force and then dropping its next two at home, losing to Wyoming and Boise State.
If he didn’t by the time the teams played previously, Clarke has established himself as a force to be reckoned with every time he laces up the kicks. He has won conference player of the week twice now, ranks in top 5 in the Mountain West in several areas including scoring and blocks and is in the top 20 nationally in terms of field goal percentage.
While Clarke has been consistent all season, others have failed to do so.
In last week’s two losses, Clarke put up a combined 45 and next on the team was Ryan Welage who had 28 over the course of two games. After Welage, the number drops significantly.
As for the Rams they have gone 2-2 since the win against the Spartans, beating Air Force and most recently Utah State, but lost to New Mexico and Fresno State by 13 and 18.
CSU will have somewhat of a different look to them following the announcement that Che Bob, Devocio Butler and Kimani Jackson will all be academically ineligible as of Jan 17. Bob, the most noteworthy of the three, was averaging 8.5 points per game through the 16 he played in.
Nevertheless, the trio of Clavell, Omogbo and Nixon will again give San Jose State all they can handle.
The Spartans will try to get back in the win column and pick up their 10th win of the year this evening.
The game is set to start at 7:00 p.m. MT.