Utah State (16-5) at San Jose State (9-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Friday, February 8, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Event Center (5,000) -- San Jose, California. Television: None. Home Record: USU 10-3, SJSU 5-5. Away Record: USU 6-2, SJSU 4-7. Neutral Record: USU 0-0, SJSU 0-1. Conference Record: USU 7-4, SJSU 3-8. Series Record: Utah State leads, 50-21.
GAME NOTES: Losers of seven in a row, the San Jose State Spartans try to stop the bleeding on Friday night when they host the Utah State Aggies in a Western Athletic Conference battle at The Event Center.
San Jose State has now gone a month since tasting victory, defeating New Orleans in non-conference play back on Jan. 8 by a 71-64 score at home. More recently, the Spartans were taken out by Idaho at the Cowan Spectrum in Moscow last Saturday, 66-63. With the setback, SJSU is now just 3-8 in conference play.
Meanwhile, the Aggies have somehow picked up back-to-back wins even with the roster being riddled with injuries. The team closed out the month of January with a 77-67 victory over Idaho, and then followed that up with a 68-46 romp over Seattle at KeyArena last Saturday in order to move to 7-4 in conference action.
The Aggies lead the all-time series by a 50-21 margin, winning the most recent matchup last month by a score of 66-60 at home. With that, USU has now won 11 straight and 17 of the last 18 encounters with the Spartans dating back to 2006. The lone victory for SJSU during that span was a 70-67 final at home in 2008.
Even though the Aggies utilized just three players off the bench, the team still had little trouble taking care of business against the Redhawks on the road last Saturday night. Spencer Butterfield registered a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while Jarred Shaw led all scorers with 16 points. TeNale Roland and Marcel Davis contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, while Ben Clifford tacked on 10 boards as the team overcame 17 turnovers with a 44-25 rebounding advantage. Shaw is the top active scorer for USU with his 13.8 ppg in conference play, shooting 51.6 percent from the floor over the course of 11 games. Shaw is also first on the glass with 8.0 rpg and has blocked 12 shots, which somewhat makes up for having only six assists. Butterfield (12.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg) helps to give the team a rebounding advantage of 6.5 rpg at the moment.
The Spartans fell behind immediately against Idaho in the last game, trailing by as many as 15 points early in the second half before closing the gap down the stretch. San Jose State shot just 31.9 percent from the floor in the meeting, including 11-of-27 beyond the arc, but the most troubling aspect of the team's efforts was an awful 8-of-24 showing at the free-throw line. D.J. Brown posted a team-best 18 points, adding seven rebounds and five assists off the bench, while Louis Garrett and Nick Grieves both tallied 10 points. Before fouling out Chris Cunningham responded with a game-high 18 rebounds, but he shot only 2-of-14 from the floor. With James Kinney (20.6 ppg) having been suspended, the Spartans are missing a major part of their offense and have only Cunningham (10.4 ppg) listed as averaging in double figures at this stage. The program is producing a mere 64.4 ppg, shooting 38.7 percent from the floor and 65.5 percent at the charity stripe.
The loss of Kinney has hampered the Spartans to the point where they just can't keep up with even the weaker teams in the WAC. Utah State has a laundry list of injured players to deal with, but the Aggies appear to be coping much better these days than SJSU.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Utah State 72, San Jose State 66
02/08 10:30:43 ET