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Colorado State 74 – San Jose State 66

January 28, 2016

Rematches can be really interesting.

The first time these two teams met a few short weeks ago, CSU came from behind to first tie the game late to push it into OT, then scored a late layup in OT to come away with the narrowest of wins.

And it was obvious from the opening tip that both teams were ready to play each other as they attacked and defended with the knowledge of what their opponent was trying to do.  San Jose State was defending the Rams well on the perimeter and CSU was doing a good job defending the Spartans in the post. 

The Rams edged out to an 18-12 lead midway through the half but the Spartans reeled them in with a 9-point run of their own.  CSU jumped back ahead by 7, the Spartans brought it back to 4 at the half at 30-26.

Back and forth it went as the Rams would extend and San Jose would reel it in. A lead of 10 went down to 2. A lead of 9 turned into a 1-point Spartan lead.  Rim attacks by Antwan Scott and tough putbacks by Tiel Daniels and Emmanuel Omogbo were countered by SJSU’s Princeton Onwas in the interior and Cody Schwartz from the perimeter.

And then in the end game with the Rams leading by 1, Antwan Scott made the big play that got the Rams over the top.  Onwas attacked the rim once again and Scott helped off his man, ripped the ball from Onwas, and then finished at the rim while being fouled by Schwartz. He completed the and-1, the Rams had pushed the lead to 4, and they finished the game clinically.

Scott had been a dervish in the second half on the offensive end, attacking the rim repeatedly as his outside shot wasn’t falling. He went left, he went right, he went direct and ended the game with 21 points, 8 of which came from the free throw line.  Daniels and Omogbo had been quiet in the first half but were absolute killers in the paint in the second half.  Daniels repeatedly grabbed loose balls and finished at the rim and free throw line; he finished with 10 and 9.  Omogbo slashed his way to the tin and finished with 11 and 7.  Onwas scored 20, mostly in the interior and Schwartz shot 6-11 from beyond the arc to finish with 18 for San Jose State.

For a team that has been through a bit of an emotional roller coaster, it was a solid 40-minute win.  From a fan perspective, it was a very enjoyable game.

The curious case of San Jose State…  It is really hard to figure out why this team doesn’t win more.  They really do have some good players.  They can score inside and out.  They run good sets offensively.  They probably foul a little too much and they aren’t the best on the glass but they have plenty to win more.  I can only describe it as them lacking a collective belief as a team that they can actually win.  It’s a poorly funded and poorly supported program but somehow Coach Dave Wojcik has gotten some good young players to go there and he has them playing better ball than in previous years.  I wouldn’t categorize them as a sleeping giant because they aren’t.  But they sure are better these days.  And Wojcik is a guy you want to root for.  He was classy enough to donate a large sum of money to assist Emmanuel Omogbo and you see his genuine respect both pre- and post-game in how he spoke with CSU players.

Emmanuel Omogbo entered the court to a standing ovation… And it was one of the most touching moments I have seen in Moby.  It was right up there with Senior Night of the 2013 team.  He was a little nervy in the first half but settled down in the second half and was a critical part of delivering a win for the Rams.  Putbacks, slashes, tough rebounds, and a beautiful reverse layup at the end of the game late in the clock to seal the win.  His play was great.  His courage is unsurpassed.

One final thought… The team is progressing but I still think there is a little too much “How am I going to get mine” rather than “How am I going to make it easier for someone else to get his.”  A few too many individual tangents for my taste.

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