Spartans Face Boise State Saturday Afternoon

With a victory in their regular season finale today, the San Jose State Men's Basketball team (14-15, 6-9 WAC) have a chance to finish with an overall .500 record, heading into next week's WAC tournament. But, in order to do that, they will need a rare WAC road victory over the Boise State Broncos on Saturday afternoon.

The Boise State Broncos, if not hot, are leaning towards warm. Consider their latest series of WAC matchups:

A January 23rd 10-point victory at rival Idaho. Trippin' to Fresno resulted in a 16-point triumph. Then the 'old' Broncos reappeared and lost by 24 at home to Idaho. Utah State came to Boise and pulled out a five-point win. In Reno, the Broncos lost by a bucket. While in Ruston, Greg Graham's bunch took down Louisiana Tech by 13. Last Saturday, BSU fell by three to New Mexico State in Las Cruces. On Thursday, it was a 19-point victory over visiting Hawaii.

Yes, Graham doesn't have his best team ever in 2009-2010 but it's one that has grown and certainly become more competitive over the latter half of the WAC itinerary.

It's also the one San Jose State will face at approximately 3:15 Pacific time Saturday at the Taco Bell Arena in Boise.

Boise State and SJSU met on January 14 and here's our game report:

Spartans win 76-74

One concern emanating out of Boise State this week was a so-called lack of a go-to guy at the end of games. Fittingly, that meme reared its head tonight, both positively and negatively for the Broncos in a 76-74 loss.

With 2:43 remaining, Adrian Oliver made a pair of free throws (note a theme beginning here) to make it 71-66 in San Jose State's favor.

At the 2:10 mark, BSU's La'Shard Anderson buried a trey. After an exchange of possessions, Daequon Montreal scored on a putback to tie the game.

AO was fouled again and repeated his earlier success, making both free throws to push the Spartans back up 73-71.

Anderson came down and buried another trey to put the Broncos ahead 74-73 with 59 second left.

At the 34 second mark, Oliver was fouled yet again and duplicated his previous attempts, burying both free throws to nudge San Jose State back up 75-74.

After a BSU timeout, Anderson missed a three-point attempt and Mac Peterson was fouled after gathering in the rebound.

Peterson missed his initial free throw and made the second, leaving the score 76-74.

Boise State came down, missed on a shot and then a rebound putback but Anthony Thomas boarded and scored down low. However, he released his shot after the clock ran out.

SJSU's Oliver scored 37 in the last matchup with Boise State -- tonight he poured in 33.

The Spartans shot 48% as a team to BSU's 40%. SJSU went 17-21 at the foul line and this is where Coach Greg Graham's team stumbled, going 7-16. Boise State did enjoy a 49-29 rebounding advantage, with 26 offensive boards.

At the half it was even at 40 apiece. Oliver had 19 at that point and Justin Graham 11. The latter scored four baskets early on with dribble-drives to the hoop. After 20 minutes, there were already 13 ties and 11 lead changes between the teams.

We loved this initial half quote, coming from the Boise State announcers: "nobody is stopping anybody tonight."

It was soon followed with "who puts up two defensive stops and comes down and scores, wins it."

But that changed -- to a degree -- when the teams returned to the court.

San Jose State's C.J. Webster missed the game after being poked in the eye against Fresno State in the previous contest.


BSU's WAC Schedule

Jan 02 @ Fresno State 68 - 71 (L)
Jan 04 @ Hawai'i 68 - 76 (L)
Jan 09 New Mexico State 85 - 88 (L)
Jan 11 @ Louisiana Tech 64 - 79 (L)
Jan 14 @ San Jose State 74 - 76 (L)
Jan 16 @ Utah State 59 - 81 (L)
Jan 20 Nevada 82 - 88 (L)
Jan 25 @ Idaho 77 - 67 (W) OT
Jan 30 Fresno State 65 - 49 (W)
Feb 06 Idaho 55 - 79 (L)
Feb 11 Utah State 67 - 72 (L)
Feb 13 @ Nevada 80 - 82 (L) OT
Feb 25 @ Louisiana Tech 72 - 59 (W)
Feb 27 @ New Mexico State 92 - 95 (L)
Mar 04 Hawai'i 82-63 (W)

The Bronco Starting Five

6-foot-9 Ike Okoye: 12.5 points and 7.8 rebounds a game -- solid but generally not explosive as a points producer.

6-foot-7 Daequon Montreal: Look for him to be a 'monster' next season as he had added 4 points per game to his scoring average and gone from 48% shooting to 55% during WAC play -- he's also the best athlete on the team.

6-foot-6 Robert Arnold: can score a lot or a little and recently went for 35 against New Mexico State, resulting in him being named the WAC Player of the Week.

6-foot-1 La'Shard Anderson: the best point on the team this season, he can get hot but hasn't shot that well overall all year.

6-foot-2 Anthony Thomas: it has not been the senior season he or anyone else expected as his shooting and ballhandling has suffered statistically but consider that Saturday will be his final home game.

The Cavalry

6-foot-9 Kurt Cunningham: his playing time and output have lessened in WAC competition but he has the bulk to score inside if allowed to obtain position.

6-foot-10 Zack Moritz: - he is another of the Beef Brothers and his game is similar to Cunningham's.

6-foot-6 Paul Noonan : his shooting percentage and scoring are also down in league action but he'll pour in the points if given good catch-and-shoot looks.

The Boise State roster, by position

G.A. Hill G 5-8 140 Fr.
Justin Salzwedel G 6-2 184 Jr.
Anthony Thomas G 6-0 211 Sr.
Nate Larsen G 6-2 188 Sr.
La'Shard Anderson G 6-1 170 Jr.

Daequon Montreal F 6-7 229 Jr.
Ike Okoye F 6-9 235 Sr.
Robert Arnold F 6-6 170 Jr.
Paul Noonan F 6-7 214 Jr.
Tyler Young F 6-8 219 Fr.

Zack Moritz C 6-11 245 Jr.
Kurt Cunningham C 6-9 265 Sr.

What To Expect

- A season-ending injury to junior backcourter Westley Perryman has severely curailed Graham's options in the backcourt, thus making it imperative that his available guards perform efficiently and remain out of foul trouble.

- Look for Daequon Montreal to be the team leader next season as he is already edging into that role now.

- Expect anywhere between for 20-30 three-point shots to be hoisted by the Broncos, more towards the former if they are scoring inside, heading to the latter if play in the paint isn't productive.

- BSU has scored, 80, 81, 74, 72, 92 and 82 points in the last six games -- an average of 80 points, with a full WAC schedule average of 72.7 -- so the BSU offensive play is definitely curving upwards.


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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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