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San Jose State Basketball: The Woes of the Short-handed

Two 16-point losses to two white hot teams

NCAA Basketball: San Jose State at Boise State
SJSU guard MJ Amey scores 24 points at Boise State, February 5, 2022
photo by: Brian Losness

The thought of three games in five days with the last two against two white hot teams on the road was already hard to fathom - especially with only eight players.

After a 30-point loss to Fresno State on February 1st, the Spartans (7-15, 0-10 MW) suffered a 16-point loss at Utah State, where they actually played their best half of basketball all year – all with only a seven-man rotation for head coach Tim Miles.

Spark plug forward Trey Anderson suffered a head injury two-minutes into the Utah game and missed playing at Boise.

Now, they were seven.

A Saturday loss to the best team in the conference saw Boise State (18-5, 9-1 MW) cruise out to a 76-60 win.


In the 78-62 loss to the Aggies, the Spartans had some extra juice after experiencing a big loss to Fresno State two days before.

In that first half, with only a seven-man rotation, Miles’ zone strategy kept Utah State completely flustered. Behind only 34-33 at half, it was clearly the best defensive minutes all season for San Jose State.

Again, there was that chance.

By the second half, the weariness kicked in for the Spartans on the road and Utah State tightened up their play. The Spartans would see the back of 9-0 Aggie run leading to a 16-point loss.

Forward Tibet Gorener did finally wake from some ice cold shooting in the last few games scoring nine points. Trey Smith, Omari Moore and MJ Amey reached double digit scoring with 14, 10 and 11 points, respectively.

The Spartans started with energy and ended flat, in large part because of you know what.


Freshman Spartan guard MJ Amey was the only highlight for San Jose State at Boise on Saturday. Amey shined with a hard-earned 24-points.

Often gassed at times with the seven-man rotation and his other guard mates playing tentative while in foul trouble, Amey’s 9-13 (5-8 beyond the arc) from the field was something to write home about.

“MJ really showed out and he can really get those buckets, right?” Miles said on the lone Spartan bright spot. “This poor kid was almost going to swallow his tongue out there, because we had him chasing around on the zone.”

With the Spartans only making a game of it for the first 15 minutes, the Broncos continued to play to their identity – an unwavering, tough and gritty defensive team.

With Omari Moore finally fouling out with four minutes left, there wasn’t much to expect for a now six-man Spartan rotation. And when freshman guard Josh O’Garo fouled out, guess what?

Only five Spartans left standing

The Spartans played hard and are showing some individual progress but being short-handed for such an extended period of time won’t show up on the stats - only in the loss column for now.

“Obviously, we need help. We started the roster in August with 15 guys and for a variety of reasons, we’re down nine guys,” said Miles. “But what a great thing for the players who are playing right now. You know you’re going to get to play. You know even if you screw up – big deal. It’s a great thing for them, but we just have to get everybody on the same page.”