Then San Jose State got a taste of what the Tar Heels and Cardinal experienced. The Spartans were held without a basket for the first seven minutes of the second half as Santa Clara coasted to a 73-60 victory at the Leavey Center.
The Broncos had three scorers in double figures, led by Doron Perkins' 18 points, but it was their defense that turned a 36-33 halftime edge into a 21-point bulge late in the game. Against a seldom-used zone, San Jose State committed seven turnovers and missed its first eight shots of the second half.
``In all the years I've been in the coaching profession, the most zone we've ever played was 10 minutes,'' said Dick Davey, in his 13th season as the Broncos' coach. ``Today we played about 18 minutes.''
It was Santa Clara's seventh victory in the past eight games of the series and the first time in four meetings that the game was decided by more than two points.
``We played timid,'' said San Jose State guard Kareem Guilbeaux, ``and any time you play timid against a team that beat Stanford and North Carolina, they're going to make you pay for it -- especially on their court.''
``I thought we played too cool,'' said SJSU Coach Phil Johnson. ``I thought we were casual from start to finish.''
The Spartans (2-2) were led by forward Marquin Chandler with 14 points. Michael McFadden added 12, but none after halftime. For Santa Clara (5-2), Scott Dougherty scored a career-high 13 points off the bench. Travis Niesen, coming off a 31-point game against Stanford, had 12.
After a 10-point win over Stanford on Sunday, Santa Clara wasn't sharp early. It was similar to the Broncos' sluggish first half against Pacific in the first game after their upset of North Carolina. In that game, a 71-65 loss, the Broncos trailed 40-29 at halftime.
``I don't think we really had a letdown,'' Perkins said of Wednesday's game. ``Just not as much energy.''
San Jose State double-teamed Niesen early, holding him to two field-goal attempts (both misses) in the first half. Similarly, Santa Clara did a terrific job against the Spartans' big gun. Chandler, who was leading the Spartans in scoring with 20.7 points per game, took just three shots in the first half and missed them all.
Santa Clara found its spark late in the first half, holding SJSU without a field goal in the final 2:46 before intermission, then scoring the first 10 points of the second half.
San Jose State didn't score until Matt Misko's layup with 13:06 remaining cut the Broncos' lead to 46-35.
``Their pressure and zone paralyzed us a little bit and it showed,'' Johnson said.
All but two of Niesen's points came after the outcome was ensured, but the junior forward made his presence felt in other ways.
Niesen finished with 12 points, but 10 came in the second half after the Broncos had pulled away.
``He was doing his part, drawing two players'' to defend him, Perkins said. ``We had to do our part and hit open shots.''
The Broncos did, making a season-high 11 of 22 three-point attempts. Perkins was 4 for 5 from long range. Dougherty hit 3 of 5.