GAME NOTES: The San Jose State Spartans try to get to .500 at home, as they host the New Mexico State Aggies in Western Athletic Conference action at The Event Center on Thursday night.
The Spartans are currently 5-6 in their own building, but against league foes the squad has won just one of five host gigs thus far. Unfortunately for SJSU, the team has been moving in the wrong direction for more than a month now, suffering from an eight-game slide that has them sitting at only 3-9 in conference play.
Last Friday night, the Spartans entertained a resurgent Utah State group and took a hard fall in a 63-36 final as the Aggies completed the season sweep.
While SJSU is sitting in seventh place in the conference standings, the Aggies are forcing the action near the top as they are currently tied with Denver for second place with 11 wins in 13 tries. Thanks to a 60-57 win over Seattle last Saturday, NMSU is one of the hottest teams in the league with an 11-game win streak.
New Mexico State has been masterful at home with 12 wins in 13 chances, but on the road not so much as the squad tries to get to .500 with its record only 5-6 at the moment.
The Aggies lead the all-time series, 33-12, after winning the first meeting of the season last month, 70-53, in Las Cruces.
The Aggies went with a short bench last weekend versus Seattle at the Pan American Center, utilizing only two players who combined to score just five points in 30 minutes. Instead, it was Daniel Mullings who carried the group with 18 points, followed by Sim Bhullar with 14 points, nine boards and four blocked shots as the team made it through to the win column despite shooting just 34.0 percent from the floor and 4-of-14 beyond the arc.
Currently dealing with some injuries and disciplinary issues to key performers, the Aggies might again be somewhat short-handed on Valentine's Day as well, but as lone as Mullings (14.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 68 assists, 54 steals) the team always has a good chance to win. While Mullings directs traffic, Bandja Sy handles a lot of the action in the paint for the Aggies with his 7.3 rpg, accounting for 11.2 ppg as well even though he continues to try and make himself into a 3-point threat (15-of-70) which just isn't the best option for him right now.
The Spartans have had some weak offensive outings this season, but the worst was against Utah State last week when the team shot only 26.5 percent from the floor, including 4-of-20 behind the 3-point line. Somehow D.J. Brown managed to come up with 16 points, accounting for every conversion on the perimeter (4-of-9), while Chris Cunningham came within a rebound of a double-double as he tallied 10 points in the losing cause as well.
Since James Kinney (19.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg) was suspended the Spartans have been floundering. The only player to have started every league bout is Cunningham so it only makes sense that he is leading the team in scoring (10.9 ppg) and rebounding (9.0 rpg), but it certainly doesn't help that he is shooting just 38.5 percent from the floor. The team as a whole is making only 35.6 percent from the field and 27.6 percent beyond the arc in conference play.
Even though the Aggies are hitting the floor without some key players, the ones that they still have are more experienced and will get more support from the bench than the Spartans this time around.
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