Brief white out conditions and snow falling in Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day isn’t as odd as the excitement across the Mountain West this season. In the middle of the new madness?
San Jose State basketball (16-10, 7-6 MW).
Anything with the name San Jose and Spartans is still hard to swallow for some, but at SJSU, basketball is part of the overall renaissance around athletics in general.
For UNLV (16-10, 5-9), the idea of losing twice in a season to the upstart Spartans is probably another hard pill for the ol’ status quo, especially with SJS’ 75-66 win at Thomas Mack Arena.
The Spartans led the Rebels for over 31 minutes and that was with stalwart Spartan guard Omari Moore being held scoreless for the entire first-half.
Though hats off to the Rebel defense keying in on Moore who went 0-8 in the half, the rest of the Spartans were 17-25 carrying them to a 40-36 half-time lead.
Picking up the scoring slack was forward Trey Anderson who finished with 19 points, while Moore asserted himself to 14 points in the second half making Moore ninth all-time in scoring in San Jose State history with 1,139 points.
But the beauty of what to really expect from a Tim Miles’ team is when a wider variety of players find the collective energy and cohesion towards a true team win. Case in point; with Moore on a so-called off-night, the team rallied and the team spread the wealth...and the effort.
Team basketball is what people gravitate to and team basketball with a selfless leader like Moore is another great example of the beauty of basketball.
In SJS’ OT win over UNLV in the first go-around on December 29th, it was the contributions from a variety of players. 30 bench points then and 24 bench points on Tuesday night helped down the Rebels. In that December game, freshman guard Garrett Anderson started to show his moxie, which reared up Tuesday night in another what’s-to-come player under Miles.
It’s also the inside game Miles touted earlier in the season that would help bring success and it certainly has so far. The strength, size and presence of center Ibrahima Diallo and Robert Vaihola with forwards Sage Tolbert, Tibet Gorener and Trey Anderson have buoyed a surprising season two of the Miles’ era.
Collectively, its why the Spartans can command the glass; out rebounding the Rebels 41-29 in the win.
These SJS bigs are also why the Spartans are among the best rebounding teams in the conference and tops in offensive rebounding.
And while the Spartans were connecting on the deep balls against UNLV and controlling the glass, the SJS defense also held the Rebels to 7 of 28 in the second half. The Spartans were 48% from the field (40% from three).
With five games left, the Spartans return home for a Friday night bout and the next second go-around with the New Mexico Lobos, which should be a surefire matchup and the local game to watch for San Joseans.