GAME NOTES: Playing at home for just the third time this season, the Roadrunners of Texas-San Antonio prepare to close out the 2012 calendar year with a Western Athletic Conference bout against San Jose State at the Convocation Center on Monday afternoon.
UTSA, one of the newest additions to the WAC, started off the campaign well enough with three wins in four opportunities, has since hit the skids. The team suffered through a five-game slide before finally ending the drought with a 75-45 romp over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi a few days before Christmas. Unfortunately, the team fell right back into the loss column again on Saturday when it bowed to Utah State at home in the conference opener, 71-67.
As for the Spartans, they've had mixed returns in the early going in 2012-13 and are currently one game over .500 at 6-5. The team managed to snap a two- game slide two days ago when they took out Texas State, another new addition to the WAC, with a 72-55 final on the road.
The teams have split their two previous meetings, each winning a home game in the last two seasons.
The WAC schedule started off with a bang for the Spartans on Saturday as Chris Cunningham registered a double-double consisting of 11 points and a team-best 14 rebounds, while Louis Garrett scored a season-high 16 points for the visitors. James Kinney accounted for another 12 points, but in his case he shot only 6-of-17 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-point tries as the program finished a dismal 1-of-13 beyond the arc on the afternoon. Kinney's poor shooting effort is a bit unusual given that he is hitting his field goals at a 43.8 percent clip and is one of the top scoring threats in the nation with his 21.5 ppg. D.J. Brown checks in with 10.5 ppg and is first with 49 assists, while Cunningham always has the potential to put up a double- double with his 9.8 ppg and 9.5 rpg.
Trailing by as many as nine points to Utah State, the Roadrunners made it a two-point difference in the final minutes before suffering the four-point setback at home. UTSA, which led by as many as six points early in the first half, was paced by Jordan Sims who tallied 20 points as he knocked down all but two of his eight 3-point tries, followed by Kannon Burrage with 14 points and Jeromie Hill with 12 and nine boards in the close call. Burrage is playing close to 35 minutes per game and has used that time to generate 18.2 ppg, placing him among the league's top scorers, but at the same time he is shooting just 36.5 percent from the floor and that is not helping matters. Michael Hale III (15.2 ppg) and Hill (13.3 ppg, 7.2 rpg) are the other reliable scorers for the group, but beyond them there's no one putting up even 6.0 ppg at the moment.
UTSA will have some growing pains going through the WAC schedule, and the Spartans are sure to make it hurt just a little bit on Monday as well.
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