TSX Files: Defensive shortcomings hurting

The Spartans made 11 of 19 attempts from behind the arc at Fresno State on Jan. 14, but still lost 82-73 to drop to 6-11 overall and 0-3 in the WAC.

Even though that 3-point shooting gives San Jose State a chance, the problem moving forward is that George Nessman's team entered the week last in the WAC in defense (72.9 points per game allowed) and last in rebounding margin (minus 4.2 per game).

"There are stretches when we play well defensively," Nessman said. "Stretches won't do it. We've got to play better defense."

Check out the scores from SJSU's first three conference games: The Spartans allowed 82 points to Hawaii, 81 to Nevada and 82 to Fresno State.

The first three league foes shot 50.6 percent against San Jose State.

The schedule hasn't done San Jose State any favors, either.

The Spartans were on the road for four consecutive weeks -- from Seattle to Honolulu -- and haven't played at home since a Dec. 20 game against UC Davis.

"We're plain fatigued," Nessman said after the loss to Fresno State.

Good news is that the Spartans had a three-game homestand coming up, starting with Jan. 19 against New Mexico State.


Missed free throws costly in loss to Bulldogs

--San Jose State entered the week leading the WAC in free throw shooting at 72.8 percent, but that accuracy deserted the Spartans in a Jan. 14 loss at Fresno State. They made only 11 of 22 in the second half, which included three misses on the front end of one-and-one opportunities.
--The Spartans lack athleticism in the frontcourt and they are unable to re-direct many shots in the interior. San Jose State had a mere 26 blocked shots through 17 games, and its average of 1.5 per game was last in the WAC and among the worst marks nationally.
--San Jose State wrapped up a six-game streak away from home with a game at Fresno State on Jan. 14. That was only the second time since December 1979 that the Spartans had played six consecutive games away from home. The other time came in November 2006.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1-9 -- SJSU's record in road games, through the loss at Fresno State on Jan. 14.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "They have three or four guys who can shoot the three. It's guard-oriented, guard-heavy. What makes them good is they can score off the bounce. They can score in catch-and-shoot. Their bigs set a lot of screens, so you have to be focused and conscious on those guys whether you're in man or zone." -- Nevada coach David Carter, giving a scouting report on San Jose State.



--vs. New Mexico State, Jan. 19

KEY MATCHUPS: It will be nice to be home for the first time in a month, but the matchup does San Jose State no favors. The Aggies have size, skill and production from their frontcourt and they lead the WAC with a rebounding average of plus-7.4. SJSU is last at minus 4.2. While New Mexico State, with Wendell McKines and Hamidu Rahman up front, figure to rule the paint, the Aggies are also playing excellent 3-point defense, potentially taking away the Spartans' strength.

--vs. Louisiana Tech, Jan. 21

KEY MATCHUPS: The Bulldogs aren't overly skilled on offense and don't have the size that can be problematic to a team like San Jose State. If SJSU post Wil Carter can stay out of foul trouble, he might be able to do some damage against a Tech team that has been struggling on defense. Carter entered the week averaging 10.6 points and 8.2 rebounds.

FUTURES MARKET: Coach George Nessman changed the starting lineup for the Jan. 14 game at Fresno State, inserting a pair of freshmen -- G D.J. Brown and post Stephon Smith. "Stephon has really been rising," Nessman said. Smith could be the lift SJSU needs as a frontcourt complement to Wil Carter, because Matt Ballard wasn't providing it. Smith, after coming off bench with 14 points in a loss at Nevada on Jan. 12, had only one point vs. Fresno State, however. Brown scored 11 points in his starting debut, making 3 of 5 3-point shots. PLAYER NOTES

--F Matt Ballard, despite starting 10 of his first 16 games, entered the week averaging only 1.6 points. While he was solid on the boards (4.1) per game, SJSU needs more scoring up front, which prompted coach George Nessman to take Ballard out of the starting lineup Jan. 14 at Fresno State in favor of freshman Stephon Smith.
--SG James Kinney entered the week third in the WAC in scoring (16.4 points per game), third in free throw percentage (83.7), second in steals (1.5) and fourth in 3-point percentage (43.1).

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