#17 Utah State (19-2, 7-1 MW) was a tall task and a big ask for San Jose State (8-13, 1-7 MW). 33° weather in Logan, Utah could only numb the pain of a 82-61 Spartan loss.
The Aggies, 41-4 historically over San Jose, earned their 13th straight home victory and the 100th career win for first-year coach Danny Sprinkle, while the Spartans could only scrap and gang up on the strong inside play imposed by Utah State.
The Aggies, as expected, went inside early and often with big wingman Great Osobor. The 6’8” 250 lb. Osobor finished with 31 pounding points finding the free-throw line 20 times.
Head coach Tim Miles without any loss of energy, hope and belief still expressed the natural frustrations of trying to do more with less, especially with no size and girth to help patrol or create a foundational inside game.
San Jose could only counter with 14 points from their energizer, 6’2” guard MJ Amey Jr.
Amey poured in the first eight points helping force the Aggies to three early turnovers and holding Utah scoreless for three minutes and a brief 13-8 Spartan lead.
But Utah State figured it out quickly stepping up the defensive intensity and forcing consecutive Spartan turnovers to tie up the game before the slow-burn with cutting offensive play to counter San Jose’s active hands defense.
San Jose managed to keep things relatively close in the first-half pulling back to within one point after forcing Utah State into a scoreless three minute perimeter game. A Miles’ timeout sought to refocus a Spartan surge or hold back an Aggie onslaught.
Unfortunately out of the Miles’ timeout, Utah State immediately stepped up the energy further with a steal, a block and a 10-2 run, but only a 37-30 halftime deficit for San Jose.
Coming out of the half, Amey re-started the scoring with a short floater inside before Osobor continued his punishing inside game with back-to-back baskets leading to a 12-0 Utah State run to put the Spartans back on their heals.
Spartan forward Tibet Gorener’s three-pointer 12 minutes into the second-half kept SJS within 10 points (53-43). Gorener finished with nine points. Spartan guard Alvaro Cardenas managed 11 points.
Utah State finished the game on a 10-0 run on an overwhelmed San Jose State team running and scrapping for their basketball lives against the larger Aggies.
The Spartans travel to Reno Friday to face Nevada where nothing gets easier in their quest to find answers.