There’s not many redeemable qualities in a 94-56 blowout loss, where the Spartans were outmatched and outclassed in every category against UNLV. But head coach Jean Prioleau tried his best using all kinds of different rotations and every player on his bench to try and generate something against the relentless Rebels.
SJSU (3-14, 0-5 MW) struggled the entire game at UNLV (10-7, 4-1 MW) on Saturday in front of 8,623 at the Thomas & Mack Center, and as soon as Rebel head coach Marvin Menzies began emptying his bench with 6:45 left and a 31-point lead, the Rebel fans were dancing around and enjoying the moment.
A sluggish start
The Spartans were missing easy shots at the basket and forcing the issue, though it more likely had to do with the aggressive Rebel defense. Turnovers weren’t as much the problem this time, though the Spartans had 15 in the game. The Rebels’ physicality and their slicing-and-dicing transition game continually pierced the Spartan defense and constantly kept San Jose on their heels.
By midway in the first-half, the Spartans were 1-12 shooting and the Rebels were on a 14-2 run and had moved out to as large as a 24-point lead over the Spartans. At that point, an upset Prioleau started to go deeper into his bench with less-often used guards Isaiah Nichols, Brian Rodriguez-Flores and later on, guard Trey Smith to find a spark, who managed 2, 4 and 5-points, respectively. By half-time, UNLV’s 46-25 lead could still be considered manageable.
The Rebels did a good job minimizing the Spartans’ biggest threats by sticking close to guard Noah Baumann, who ended with only 6-points (after a 29-point outburst against Utah State) and collapsing on forward Michael Steadman to put more pressure on his possessions. Steadman was the only Spartan in double figures with 14-points. More notably for Steadman, he had zero turnovers, which had been problematic of late.
UNLV made nine 3s in the first-half; shooting 50% beyond the arc where normally it’s been at 30%. By game’s end, the Rebels hit 15 3s; the most this year for UNLV; going 48% overall from three-land. The Rebels basically made as many 3s as the Spartans attempted.
SJSU could not sustain any kind of offense to keep up with UNLV; ending up 23-66 from the field (35%) and only 3-15 (20%) from 3s. Besides being the most points SJSU has given up this year, Mountain West teams are shooting over 40% on 3s on the Spartans.
The Rebels continued to pound on the Spartans to the last seconds of the game. Even though the Spartans had the size advantage, it was another case of too much team speed and team athleticism that had the Rebels in complete control for the whole game.
For the Spartans, they have to know every team they face will try to follow the blueprint set forth by the previous eight teams SJSU has lost to, which includes the struggling Cowboys, when the Spartans visits Wyoming next Wednesday.