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SJS Basketball: Spartans ground the Eagles

Second consecutive home opening win for Miles

SJS center Ibrahima Diallo dunks vs. Georgia Southern, Spartan Event Center, San Jose, CA, November 8, 2022
photo by: Terrell Lloyd

Without much tape on Georgia Southern (0-1, 0-0 Sunbelt) to go on, San Jose State (1-0, 0-0 MW) could at least ascertain they were going to get another very feisty team coming into the Spartan Event Center.

Unlike the “clumsy” exhibition win last Friday, where defensive lapses irked second-year head coach Tim Miles, the 63-48 win over the Eagles Tuesday night was acceptable.

“Mentally how you carry yourself and what you expect of yourself is absolutely everything,” said Miles on comparing the win last Friday and the regular season win Tuesday night. “I think our guys came into a division two opponent last week thinking we’ll be fine, but basketball is a game of skill and that’s the great part about it.”

“The three point field goal is the great equalizer and last week Cal State goes out and hits 10 of 13 three balls to start and all of sudden we got a little problem on our hands.”

Though a win is a win, it isn’t for Miles. It’s a continuous building process of cleanup and auto-correcting given the bigger mountain ahead.

Spartans control the game from start to finish

Starting slow in the first-half, center Ibrahim Diallo led the charge early for SJS.

With six Spartan points in the paint almost right away, the Eagles tried to force some offense. But even with the quick, agile Eagle athletes, the Spartans’ team defense was good and consistent all game.

“Tonight, we put some defensive force out there and executed a defensive game plan and ran our offense well enough, though it was choppy building that lead,” said Miles. “Those are all good reps for us and we hung on for a good win.”

Star Spartan guard Omari Moore started slow in the first-half going 2-10 from the field but still with six first-half points.

But almost on cue, Moore found his groove in the second-half.

“I credit Omari for going into half-time, self-correcting and coming out with great intention in the second-half to make plays for us,” said Miles.

A second half onslaught and a much needed close out

Moore got comfortable starting off four-for-four in the second-half.

Guard Alvaro Cardenas’ workhorse style kept the defensive grind going, while he dropped 14 points (6-10 from the field, 2-5 from the perimeter) to equal his career high.

Moore also punctuated the night with a right wing drive and dunk to end his evening with his own 14 points, as the Spartans pulled out to a 19-point lead midway into the second half.

Even with the Spartans holding the Eagles to 27% shooting, Georgia Southern pushed the lead down to 12 with three minutes remaining and left a worried Miles wondering if the Spartans could finish.

Or as others would call it - close out the game.

A dunk, a block and a triple

The Eagles best run was closing the lead down from 21-point to 12 points, but a quick Spartan flurry ended any hope for Georgia Southern:

  1. Spartan Sage Tolbert grabbed an alley oop dunk
  2. Moore blocked an ensuing driving layup
  3. Spartan Tibet Gorener hit a three

Boom. The Spartans sprint away and you have an acceptable close out for win one.

“We had some spectacular plays,” said Miles. “But we still have to clean up our offensive execution.”