GAME NOTES: A first-ever meeting takes place at The Event Center in California on Saturday night, as the San Jose State Spartans host the Mavericks of Texas- Arlington in a Western Athletic Conference battle.
Like every other team in the WAC, the Spartans lost their battle against league-leading Louisiana Tech when they met two nights ago, 76-54, at home. The defeat was the fourth in as many games and has them at 3-5 in conference play, which means they are sitting in sixth place in the standings, just behind UTA which is sporting a mark of 4-4 in its first year in the WAC.
The Mavericks were also in action on Thursday night as they turned in a huge victory over a crippled Utah State program, 74-68, which is dealing with quite a number of injuries after getting off to such a hot start. The victory for UTA snapped the team's brief two-game slide.
Against the Aggies a few nights back, Arlington had five players score in double figures, led by Karol Gruszecki who came off the bench to offer up 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting behind the 3-point line. Brandon Edwards and Cameron Catlett added 13 points apiece, Shaquille White-Miller 11 although he shot just 1-of-9 from the floor, followed by Greg Gainey who tallied 10 points and a team-best eight rebounds. On a team that is producing just 61.5 ppg, the Mavericks don't have a single player scoring in double figures at the moment, with Kevin Butler at the top of the list with his 9.3 ppg stemming from a mere 39.8 percent accuracy from the floor. The program is holding foes to just 61.2 ppg, but the fact that the team has made just 64.7 percent at the free-throw line means that they have left many scoring opportunities unrealized.
Even though the Spartans made a total of only eight field goals in the first half against LaTech the last time out, the hosts trailed by just five points at the break. It was in the second half where things really fell apart for SJSU as the group allowed the visitors to make good on 51.4 percent from the floor and run away with the victory. Aalim Moor came off the bench to register a team-high 14 points, getting off 12 shots in only 17 minutes, while D.J. Brown responded with 11 points and fellow starter Chris Cunningham nine points and seven rebounds in a disappointing showing. The current losing streak for the Spartans has directly corresponded with the absence of leading scorer James Kinney who had been averaging 20.6 ppg before being suspended. With him out of action it leaves Cunningham as the active leader in the scoring department with 10.5 ppg, to go along with his 8.4 rpg which is easily the top mark for the Spartans.
With Kinney out of the picture the Spartans are certainly dealing with a huge loss, but still the team should be able to hold its ground at home and take care of business versus UTA.
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