Denver (16-8) at San Jose State (9-15)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 16, 10 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: The Event Center (5,000) -- San Jose, California. Television: None. Home Record: Denver 10-2, SJSU 5-7. Away Record: Denver 6-6, SJSU 4-7. Neutral Record: Denver 0-0, SJSU 0-1. Conference Record: Denver 12-2, SJSU 3-10. Series Record: Denver leads, 3-0.
GAME NOTES: Still tied for second place in the Western Athletic Conference standings, the Denver Pioneers try to continue their strong play on Saturday night when they visit the San Jose State Spartans in league action at The Event Center.
A transfer from the Sun Belt Conference, Denver has made the transition to the new league rather well with 12 wins in 14 league opportunities. Granted, two nights ago the team played overtime for the first time in 2012-13, but the result was still a favorable 63-60 road win at Utah State. The Pioneers, tied with New Mexico State in the WAC and trailing only Louisiana Tech in the standings, have now won five straight and 12 of the last 13 outings overall.
Unfortunately for the Spartans, they haven't been anywhere near as successful in recent weeks, having dropped nine consecutive decisions. Also in action on Thursday night, SJSU was visited by the New Mexico State Aggies and fell by at least double figures yet again in a 67-57 final. At 3-10, SJSU is tied with Texas State for seventh in the WAC entering the weekend.
Denver has won all three of the previous meetings between the squads, including a 73-37 romp in the first matchup of the campaign last month at Magness Arena.
Brett Olson knocked down a 3-pointer at the conclusion of overtime as the Denver Pioneers slipped by Utah State by three points in Western Athletic Conference action at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. Olson finished the night with 17 points, converting 3-of-4 behind the 3-point line for the Pioneers, while Royce O'Neale added 14 points and five assists, followed by Chase Hallam and Chris Udofia with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
One of the toughest defenses in all of college basketball for the season, allowing only 55.5 ppg, the Pioneers have stepped up their efforts in conference play by limiting the competition to only 53.4 ppg, which means the margin of victory exceeds 11 ppg in those outings. Udofia (12.0 ppg), Olson (11.6 ppg) and Hallam (10.3 ppg) are key figures at both ends of the floor for the Pioneers for a multitude of reasons.
Somehow or another the Spartans actually led by six points in the first half against NMSU two nights ago, but the hosts ended up shooting only 35.7 percent from the floor in the period, missing all five chances beyond the arc and eventually falling behind by double digits at the break. Xavier Jones was able to produce 17 points for SJSU, followed by Chris Cunningham with 11 and six boards, but the latter also shot just 3-of-12 from the field and was charged with five turnovers.
Since leading scorer James Kinney (20.6 ppg) was suspended the Spartans have become easy pickings for the competition as they are now averaging 62.9 ppg, even taking into account the contributions of Kinney early on. The only active double-digit scorer for the group is Cunningham with 10.4 ppg, leading the way on the glass with close to nine rebounds per contest. However, playing so close to the rim you would expect Cunningham to be shooting the ball well right now, but that's not the case with him converting only 41.6 percent from the field.
With Cunningham being the only consistent threat on offense, the Spartans are generally an easy bunch to defend and you can bet that Denver learned plenty from the blowout win in the first meeting to make it happen again this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Denver 66, San Jose State 51
02/16 10:45:02 ET