Spartans Blow Away Fresno State 72-45

On the way to the game, a beautiful rainbow appeared across the eastern sky. Spurred by such a sight, as much as we tried we never did locate the Yellow Brick Road or anyone remotely resembling Judy Garland, or Toto for that matter. But San Jose State played the role of water, Fresno State the Wicked Witch of the West and the host Spartans melted down the Bulldogs 72-45 Saturday night.

The score was 32-16 at halftime, an initial 20 minutes where Coach Steve Cleveland's squad shot 6-31 (19.4%) overall, 2-15 from three-point range and 2-8 from the foul line. Paul George, a candidate for the All-WAC first team and Fresno State's leading scorer, took just three shots, making none. He ended the night blanked, with just five missed shots in 27 minutes of play.

Robert Owens and Mac Peterson led the way for San Jose State, scoring 20 and 16 points respectively. The former shot 6-11 from long distance, the latter 4-7 and the Spartans were an 'en fuego' 13-26 from three-point range on the night. Adrian Oliver went just 4-18 shooting but led with both eight assists and three blocked shots. Think about this: on a night Oliver doesn't shoot anywhere close to his usual standards and Justin Graham scores a pair of points, the Spartans win in a laugher.

San Jose State's biggest lead on the night was 30 points at 50-20. Fresno State actually led early at 9-6 but that was short-lived and little remembered.

What's also noteworthy but often overlooked is the element of precision passing on display tonight. Oliver passed to Owens for a pair of game-opening left corner treys. The first pass reached Owens right at chest level, the second was a bit above his head but both allowed Owens to remain in his natural shooting rhythm -- the key to successful shooting. Later, Oliver also hit Peterson with a chest high pass that was then turned into another trey. Further on in the matchup, Justin Graham did exactly the same with passes to Peterson and then Owens.

At the 12-minute mark of the second half, none of the Bulldog starters were on the court. That was both a concession by Cleveland and also a point demonstrating his dissatisfaction with the effort of his starters.

What seemed a smart move was the halfcourt area pressure San Jose State applied to the Bulldogs once the large lead was obtained. This elongated the time period of Fresno State's possessions, thereby taking additional ticks off the clock and reducing comeback time.

It was a fitting conclusion for Senior Night, with Chris Oakes, Robert Owens, Mac Peretson and Jerelle Wilson receiving pre-game accolades. The announcement was also made that each is on target to graduate, not a note of insignificance.

The Red Wave, which is now more a trickle for road contests but worthy of noting for its devoutness, had to sit on their respective hands most of the night.

Here's Cleveland on his team: "...we were just totally inept offensively. I just haven't seen us shoot the ball that poorly...when you shoot 25 percent, you're not going to beat anybody on the planet. There's nothing positive I can think about offensively."

It appeared some of that was the result of Spartan defensive prowess but there also was no spark among the San Joaquin-ers. SJSU Coach George Nessman talked about this: "Our defensive intensity was really good, but we can't take credit for forcing a team to shoot 21-out-of-22 misses. They have a couple of spectacular players who it just wasn't their night. That happens and we took advantage of it."

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Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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