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San Jose State loses to San Diego State, 76-61

The Spartans fell behind early and never fully recovered in Tuesday’s series opener against the Aztecs.

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at San Diego State Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Spartans kicked off a two-game road trip on Tuesday night against the Aztecs at Viejas Arena.

SJSU opened up the first half by pacing themselves with 4-of-7 shooting, but trailed SDSU 9-8 at 15:48. Brandon Clarke scored six points early in the game, but went to the bench after committing three fouls and never returned. In addition, Gary Wiliams Jr. took a seat with two fouls.

The Aztecs’ defense held the Spartans without a field goal in the final seven minutes of the half. A lack of scoring hurt SJSU as they shot 31% from the floor and were 1-10 from the three-point line. The Spartans trailed significantly 42-23 at halftime.

The Spartans tried to claw their way back into the game as Clarke scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, but they continued to trail the Aztecs. Clarke finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Despite going on a 7-0 run, the Spartans were down by 12 with two minutes left to play. The SJSU defense was inconsistent. They were unable to get their three-point shooters going.

The Spartans lost to the Aztecs 76-61.

After forcing a Mountain West season-high 23 turnovers on the Fresno State Bulldogs, the Spartans jumped to the top of the league for their +1.9 turnover margin against opponents. Only the New Mexico Lobos forces more turnovers per game at 15.0 than the Spartans' 14.9. SDSU is at +1.6 in the turnover department. The Aztecs execute the second-fewest turnover per game in the league at 11.7.

SDSU controls the all-time series 35-34, but has dominated recent history by winning six straight games. SJSU's last win in the series was in 1999 in San Jose by a score of 82-57. A win on Tuesday would be SJSU’s first in San Diego since Feb. 27, 1997, when the Spartans pulled out a 65-63 Western Athletic Conference win.

The Spartans return to action Saturday afternoon when they face the Air Force Falcons at 2:00 pm MST. You can tune into the game on Mountain West Network and KLIV 1590 AM.