Deonte Burton, the conference player of the year, scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half to lead Nevada to a 54-44 win in an opening round WAC tournament game.
The Spartans weren't exactly rolling coming into tournament play. They finished the regular season with four consecutive losses after a 70-64 loss to Idaho on Saturday. The Spartans, the eighth seed, went 1-13 in the WAC regular season and finished 9-22 overall.
The Spartans were a young team and finishing games this season was a problem. They had chances to win against San Francisco, Weber St., Fresno St., UC Riverside and Idaho. That's five losses in games they had chances at the end. The Spartans hope experience in those losses translates to wins next year.
The Spartans can help themselves in this tournament next year by playing better during the regular season. For the third time in the last five WAC tournaments, San Jose State opened against the top seed.
The Spartans relied too much on the long ball this season. San Jose State set a single-season school record for most 3-point attempts with 701. The previous record was 561 (2002). They lived and died with the 3-pointer, mostly dying. In Thursday's loss, they "died" after going just 1 of 16 from beyond the 3-point line.
STAR WATCH: Wil Carter ended his solid San Jose State career in style with a team-high 18 points on 9 of 13 shooting from the floor in the loss to Nevada. The senior forward also grabbed seven rebounds. Carter took his game up a notch in his final season with the Spartans. After averaging 9.8 points last year, he averaged 13 points this past season and also grabbed nearly nine rebounds a game. He also finished the season strong, scoring 17 or more points in his last four before getting 12 points and 12 boards against Idaho on Saturday.
Carter among four seniors honored
--San Jose State honored four players on Senior Night on March 3 -- F Wil Carter, F Garrett Ton, C Matt Ballard and G Calvin Douglas. Carter has been the most productive of that quarter, averaging 13.0 points and 8.7 rebounds in the regular season while being the Spartans'only reliable offensive threat in the post. "He likes to go over his left shoulder, very athletic, very vertical," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said of Carter. "He can make a face-up jumper, but not really his strength."
--San Jose State has lost 21 of its past 22 games against Nevada, which swept this year's regular-season meetings.
--It's hard to win when you rely on the outside shot as much as San Jose State and then you don't defend the interior very well either. The result is that the Spartans rank last in the WAC in field goal percentage (39.7) and last in field goal percentage defense (45.1).
BY THE NUMBERS: 74.9 -- San Jose State's free throw percentage, which led the WAC in the regular season. The Spartans'primary guards all shoot very well from the line, led by James Kinney, who was at 84.7 percent (61 of 72) in the regular season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We've done a lot of things right. We're not playing badly, but we're not playing well enough to win. The gap between those two is not very big. It's a couple of mental errors, a couple of missed assignments, and we have been plagued with that in many games this year." -- San Jose State coach George Nessman
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAMES:
FUTURES MARKET: San Jose State, in need of big men for next season, has offered a scholarship to Daddy Ugbede, a 6-foot-7 forward from Gardena (Calif.) Serra High School. Ugbede recently helped Serra win the Southern Section Division 4AA championship game over La Verne Lutheran High. Ugbede helped get Arizona-bound Grant Jerrett (a McDonald's All-American and arguably the best player in the state) into foul trouble, and Ugbede took advantage by scoring 32 points.
--James Kinney was recently named to the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) All-Newcomer team in a vote by the eight conference coaches. Kinney was averaging a team-best 16.2 points heading into the 2012 WAC Tournament. He ranks in the conference's top five in scoring, 3-point field goals made, free-throw percentage and steals. The junior guard had a miserable tournament game against Nevada. He was 1 of 13 from the floor, missed all six triples and scored just five points.
--Keith Shamburger had eight points (4 of 12 shooting) in 39 minutes in Thursday's loss to Nevada. The sophomore guard had a good season but the Spartans need him to be more consistent. Too many times he would have nights like 0 for 8 (against CS Bakersfield), 1 for 8 (against Idaho), 1 for 9 (against Hawaii) or 5 of 18 (against Louisiana Tech). He had some big games too, but he needs to be a scorer the Spartans can rely on every night.