Spartan Notes: SJSU men’s hoops stun Houston, and MWC bowl projections

935_-mountain_west_conference-primary-2011Saturday morning, I said that what ails San Jose State basketball is an inability to move the ball and pick good shots.

Well, then.

Throw that out at least for one game. San Jose State walked away Saturday with its most impressive win of the season, rallying to beat the University of Houston 72-68 on the road.

The team’s top two recruits were the show: Rashad Muhammad, in continuing with what is becoming tradition for the Spartans, led in scoring with 21 points, including a 3-pointer in the final minutes that gave them the lead for good.

More impressive, though, is Jalen James’ triple-double, just the second in school history and third in Mountain West history. The freshman guard had 12 points, 10 assists and 13 rebounds against the Cougars on Saturday. It is the first in the conference since 2006, and first since 2001 for San Jose State.

This was a big win for the Spartans. They came back from an 11-point deficit with about eight minutes left, playing strong defense and taking advantage of Houston going cold from the field. They had 17 assists, by far the most in a game this season, and shot a season-high 48.9 percent from the field, including a 14 for 26 mark from 3-point range.

D.J. Brown added five assists and four steals in the game, and Devante Wilson had 16 points. The Spartans are off 10 days before facing UC Davis on Dec. 18.

In other San Jose State news …

Women’s basketball loses fourth straight

The recent slide for the San Jose State women’s basketball team continues. The team is currently hampered by injuries, has been suiting up just eight players the last few games.

They shot 50 percent from the field, but still lost the Spartans lost their fourth in a row, falling to coach Jamie Craighead’s former team, Sacramento State, 103-99 at Sacramento. It would be easy to get on the team about playing no defense, but being severely shorthanded is killing the Spartans in the early going.

Jasmine Smith (22 points, 13 rebounds) and Riana Byrd (14 points, 12 rebounds) each had double-doubles for the 4-5 Spartans. Ta’Rea Cunnigan had 24 points and Classye James added 23 points and eight assists.

Bowl projections for Sunday

There’s been a lot of rumor bouncing about for the Mountain West’s bowl set up. San Jose State made its stand earlier this week for a berth in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl, and may well get it.

Based on the back and forth and pundit prognosticating, UNLV gets in because they haven’t been in a long time; San Jose gets in because they’ve shown a lot of leg to the Potato Bowl owners.Both schools have spent the better part of the last week burnishing their credentials to bowl managers in an effort to get in.

Colorado State gets in if, and only if, it’s to the New Mexico Bowl, which isn’t an arduous drive from Fort Collins, Colo. It’s there or its bust for the Rams. If Boise State goes to Albuquerque, which is a distinct possibility, the Rams will be left out and the Aztecs will get the then-vacant spot in either the Armed Forces Bowl or the Hawaii Bowl.

The indication that I keep seeing is that the Aztecs are not a draw because they blew it against UNLV, have been to a bowl game recently, don’t draw well away from home, and won’t be at home this year anyway.

My projections for this year’s bowl games for the Mountain West, based on what I’ve read so far:

Some reading before the announcements tonight:

  • The San Diego Union-Tribune’s Mark Ziegler thinks San Diego State is going to the You Got Screwed Bowl. In a way, it would be fitting given the way the Aztecs dumped games this year that they should have won (Fresno State, UNLV).
  • Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News has been all over the story of whether the Spartans are bowling this year or not. The Spartans have not heard anything yet, but all signs point to a Potato Bowl berth.
  • While coach Jim McElwain doesn’t interview for jobs and the school’s leaders mull a new stadium, the Fort Collins Coloradoan analyzes Colorado State’s bowl chances at 7-6. It’s rather charitable toward the Rams (surprise, surprise.)
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal points to the likely last big battle over a bowl spot in the conference: the spot in the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy. The Union-Tribune article linked before indicates that the Rebels will get that spot.
  • The Idaho Statesman’s Chadd Cripe indicates that Boise State’s bowl spot is between similar opponents — one of the two 6-6 Pac-12 teams in Washington State or Oregon State — in either Hawaii or New Mexico.

News and notes

  • San Jose State baseball gets to jump right into Mountain West play this season. They open in mid-February at home against San Diego State in the team’s recently announced schedule. The Spartans also don’t have to travel much to start, getting nine of their first 10 games at home to open the season.
  • The swimming and diving team added some talent this week.
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