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Spartans start fast, but Aggies dominate

Baumann’s red-hot shooting

NCAA Basketball: UNLV at San Jose State Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

“Things fell apart because we started turning the ball over and that is our biggest Achilles’ heel.” said SJSU basketball head coach Jean Prioleau. “I don’t think we’re forcing the issue as much. We’re just not that confident in what we’re trying to do.”

San Jose State started the first-half fast and dominant at home Wednesday night before losing to Utah State 81-63.

The Spartans (3-13, 0-4 MW) managed a 15-point first-half lead on the Aggies (14-5, 3-2 MW). Spartan guard Noah Baumann poured in 21 first-half points and San Jose wasn’t turning the ball over, but actually forcing Aggie turnovers.

The Spartans have shown spurts of high-level play in about every game, but how can it extend that level of play is the obvious question.

“The experience will help.” said Prioleau. “If we can continue on that type of swing or trajectory, as a young team, we’re going to be really tough by year’s end.”


Baumann’s game-high 29 points; 7-10 from beyond the arc was the Spartan storyline of the game. He was the only Spartan in double figures and it was also the most 3s by a Spartan since 2011. Overall, the Spartans’ 12 3s were a team high for the season.

“I’ve told Noah he’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached and you have the green light, period.” said Prioleau. “It’s just mentally and psychologically where he’s at; what you saw today was just Noah understanding who he is and what he can do and his value and when he’s open he’s going to shoot and we want him to.”

Dreaded Turnovers

10 Spartan turnovers in the first-half basically helped neutralize SJSU’s effort and fuel the Aggies run in the first-half. The Spartans’ initial 15-point lead flipped to a 41-35 deficit at the half.

22 total Spartan turnovers continued the horrible trend, which has been the biggest deficiency in each of SJSU’s blowout losses.

Utah State had enough and settled in

By the middle of the first-half, the Aggies ratcheted up its press, tightened up on Baumann and had better ball movement, which began its 20-1 run in the first half. Aggie guard Diogo Brito came off the bench to score a team-high 23-points. Aggie star Sam Merrill had 12-points. Merrill also looked hobbled after the middle of the first-half, but continued to play. Five Aggie players scored in double figures.

SJSU gives up big scoring runs again

Predicated on the Spartan turnover dilemma, the Spartans again gave up big scoring runs; a 20-1 run by Utah State in the first-half and 17-3 run in the second-half capped the Aggie win.

All said, Prioleau continues to stress the process and continuity for his young team and to find the building blocks to continue to grow his program.

“I was really encourage that we played against a team that out rebounds teams by 10+ per game.” said Prioleau. “That is elite level rebounding and fourth in the country and they only out rebounded us by two. We also shot 50% in the second half and 45% for the game, when they hold teams to under 40%. So, we have something here.”