Troy Babbitt - USA TODAY Sports

Men's basketball: Previewing the Montana State re-match

Montana State defeated the Spartans 81-69 earlier this season.

The San Jose State Spartans (4-5) return to action on Sunday, Dec. 13 hosting the Montana State Bobcats (4-4), in the second part of a rare out-of-conference, in-season, home-and-home series. The Spartans seek to snap a two-game losing streak, having lost both ends of a two-game road trip, first 78-75 to Santa Clara on Dec. 5 and 80-62 to Marquette on Dec. 8. Montana State beat San Jose State this year in Bozeman on Nov. 20, 81-69.

SJSU vs. Montana State: The basics

Site: Walt McPherson Court at the Event Center Arena (San Jose, Calif.; capacity 5,000)

Time: 2:00 p.m. (Pacific)

TV: None.
Streaming video: http://livestream.com/sanjosestate

Radio: 1590 KLIV (San Jose) carries the official Spartan Radio Network broadcast. San Jose State student station 90.5 KSJS carries its own student-produced broadcast.

Streaming audio: www.kliv.com, www.ksjs.org, and the TuneIn app.

The last time they met

In Montana State’s 81-69 win over San Jose State on Nov. 20, Montana State out-rebounded SJSU 45-25, for SJSU’s worst rebound deficit of the season. SJSU made just 10 of 20 free throws. Despite these shortcomings, SJSU showed promise elsewhere, with a turnover margin of +8, a 47.4% field goal percentage (including 56.5% in the second half), and a positive assist-turnover ratio (1.22, based on 11 assists and 9 turnovers) compared to Montana State’s 0.47 (8 assists, 17 turnovers). Finishing with 27 points off 8-for-13 shooting, Marcus Colbert kept Montana State in the lead all through the second half.

San Jose State: Keys to the game

  • Make free throws. The team has a 62.9% free throw percentage on the season but made at least 70% of free throws in both the past two games. Free throws have defined the difference between a competitive game and blowout, case in point being the previous SJSU-Montana State matchup where SJSU missed 10 free throws and lost by 12.

  • Be proactive on rebounding. Since getting out-rebounded by 20 against Montana State on Nov. 20, SJSU has closed the rebounding gap, to the point they average 38.6 rebounds to opponents’ 36.7. Rebounding is crucial for the Spartans to gain chances to score off misses, whether their own or opponents’. This season, SJSU has always won games in which they have had the rebounding advantage.

  • Take advantage of defensive breakdowns. Montana State coach Brian Fish acknowledged his team has problems on defense. Following Montana State’s 100-97 loss to Omaha, Fish told MSUBobcats.com: “We're coming off giving up 100 points, and we've got to get stops. There have been too many games this year where (an opposing player) has had his career high against us. We've got to get that under control."

Other notes

  • Fish also had praise for SJSU: "They've changed the lineup a couple times, but (Frank) Rogers is playing at an All-Mountain West Conference level, (Cody) Schwartz is scoring well, and (Ryan Welage) Is starting to play really well. They're starting to make some shots...They just need some mileage on them to where they have some confidence. But I like their team, and I think they'll be good by the end of the year."

  • Sunday’s game marks Montana State’s fifth game against a Mountain West team this year. Montana State is 2-2 against the MWC, having beaten Wyoming 83-82 at a neutral site game in Billings on Nov. 22, two days after the home win over SJSU. The losses were against Nevada by 83-62 and Wyoming by 82-68, both away games.


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