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Spartans Notch First Conference Win: Upset Nevada

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The Spartans must feel good after escaping the Wolf Pack in a 66-64 win for their first conference victory.

Tonight the Spartans played as a team to upset the Wolf Pack on the road.
Tonight the Spartans played as a team to upset the Wolf Pack on the road.
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose State had nothing to play for. A 0-13 start in conference. A bottom seed in the MWC tourney is a lock. Clearly in a rebuilding year.

Nevada had everything to play for. A hot start in conference play. Chance for a bye to start MWC tournament. In Deonte Burton's final year.

On paper the Wolf Pack should have had more intensity and more focus than the Spartans. On the court they did not. Losses to conference powers New Mexico and San Diego State on the road are excusable. Losses to conference dwellers Fresno State and San Jose State at home are not.

Lets not take away from the accomplishment of Dave Wojcik and his Spartan squad and their first conference win, a 66-64 upset of the Nevada Wolf Pack. A last second shot that left 1.8 seconds on the clock clinched the win for the Spartans. The team came out with a desire to win and was apparent when SJSU left the court at half time with a 33-26 lead. After the half the Wolf Pack picked up the intensity on both ends to make it a close game all the way to the finish. Give the Spartans credit for not losing their composure. Even after a Rashad Muhammad double technical foul with Nevada guard Deonte Burton, the leading candidate for MWC freshman of the year Muhammad stayed composed to lead the Spartans to the road upset.

For Nevada, the lack of successful shooting doomed the Wolf Pack. The Wolf Pack shot only 33.9% (20-59) from the field and 23.8% (5-21) from 3-pt. The main issue for Nevada is it gets almost no easy buckets. An offense should provide easy layups or open jumpers for the players. For the Wolf Pack these plays almost never happen. The Wolf Pack must work hard for every shot and it often ends up with contested jumpers or difficult shots inside the paint. Besides that, point guard Burton cannot be held to 14 points on 10 shots. That almost will never end well for the Wolf Pack. Burton needs to approach 22 points a game. He has lost his aggressiveness.

Next up for the 12-15 (7-7) Nevada Wolf Pack is a road game against the Air Force Falcons.  For the 7-19 (1-13) San Jose State Spartans they must take on the #6 team in the nation, the San Diego State Aztecs.

Key Box Scores:

SJSU guard Isaac Thornton: 15 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists

SJSU guard Rashad Muhammad: 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist

Nevada center AJ West: 8 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks

Nevada guard Deonte Burton: 14 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists