Spartans work overtime for first WAC win

an Jose State (8-16, 1-8) needed double overtime to get by rival Fresno State, 79-71, en route to the Spartans' first Western Athletic Conference victory of the season. It was also San Jose State's first overtime win in four attempts this season.



"It was our fourth overtime game this year and it was really good to have one go our way," San Jose State coach George Nessman said.

There's little time to savor the win, however, as first place Nevada, which can clinch at least a tie of the WAC title with a win and a New Mexico State loss at Idaho, comes calling Saturday.

The Wolf Pack clobbered the Spartans in the first meeting in Reno, 81-57. It will be interesting to see what changes Nessman makes on the defensive side this time around. San Jose State played a zone in the first meeting and paid dearly for it as Nevada connected on a school-record 16 3-pointers in 32 attempts.

NOTES, QUOTES

Defensive woes continue for Spartans

--San Jose State entered the week ranked last in the WAC in scoring defense, allowing 73.8 points per game. That's something of a trend, as San Jose State was last in the league in scoring defense last season, and eighth out of nine teams in the 2009-10 season. "We're an improving defensive team," coach George Nessman said, "but we're not a consistently good defensive team."
--Senior F Wil Carter, a communications studies major, was one of five Division I players selected to the Capital One Academic All-District VIII first team. That is the first step to being considered for Academic All-America honors. He has a 3.40 grade-point average.
--San Jose State will play a road game in the BracketBusters event, traveling to Sacramento State on Feb. 18. That means that Sac State will be playing a game in San Jose next season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 11.6 -- San Jose State's margin of defeat in its first eight conference games, all losses.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's been a habit of our team that when we begin to feel pressure we play too quickly. ... Right now, it's a tough scenario when you keep coming up short, but what you have to do is keep battling." -- Coach George Nessman.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAMES:

--vs. Nevada, Feb. 11

EY MATCHUPS: San Jose State has to hope Nevada will be travel-weary after playing at Hawaii two nights earlier. Otherwise, the Pack should dominate inside with Dario Hunt and Olek Czyz, and Nevada is just overall too big and skilled for the Spartans. The Pack, which won the first meeting 81-57, can score from all over the court and is likely to find a matchup that works against SJSU's worst-in-the-WAC defense.

STAR WATCH: Senior PF Will Carter continues to be a double-double machine for the Spartans. Carter, who had a rare 20-20 double-double (21 points, 20 rebounds) against Hawaii on Jan. 7, had 22 points and 12 rebounds against the Warriors in a 83-81 overtime loss on Feb. 4 and followed that up with 23 points and 12 rebounds in San Jose State's double overtime win over Fresno State on Feb. 9.

FUTURES MARKET: The future of head coach George Nessman is a discussion on San Jose State message boards, although Nessman did sign a new contract last summer that takes him through the 2013-14 season. Nessman is in his seventh season at San Jose State, having posted one winning record (17-16 last season). "George Nessman took over our men's basketball program six years ago when it needed more than a cosmetic make-over," athletic director Tom Bowen said last summer when announcing the new contract. "Systematically and methodically, he has put San Jose State on a sound footing that is realizing progress and success on and off the court." Still, as the Spartans languish at the bottom of the WAC, Nessman's job will continue to be a topic.

PLAYER NOTES

--Sophomore PG Keith Shamburger, who had a career-high 12 assists in an overtime loss to Hawaii on Feb. 4, just missed a double-double in the Feb. 9 double overtime victory over Fresno State. Shamburger finished with 21 points and 9 assists.
--Senior PF Wil Carter had a double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds) in the Feb. 9 win over Fresno State.
--C/F Chris Cunningham transferred to San Jose State from Santa Clara over the summer. Cunningham (6-8, 225) averaged 4.4 points and 2.8 rebounds a game for Santa Clara. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining after he sits out in 2011-12.



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