SJSU men’s hoops hosts #25 Utah State in ESPN2 clash on Wednesday night

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By Ana Kieu

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The San Jose State men’s basketball team plays host to No. 25 ranked Utah State on Wednesday night at 8:15 pm in a televised Mountain West clash on ESPN2.

Here’s what you need to know about Wednesday’s game.

PPG: 66.4 | FG%: 39.5 | 3FG%: 25.7 | FT%: 65.6

NOTES: The Spartans enter conference play coming off a pair of Pac-12 road losses. SJSU is 2-2 at home this season and will be the host in five of its next seven games. Seneca Knight is averaging a team-high 11.8 points per game with Richard Washington just behind at 10.1. The Spartans have shot 40% or better in all three wins and shot under 40% in all five losses.

#25 UTAH STATE AGGIES (7-1, 0-0 MW)
PPG: 81.4 | FG%: 46.8 | 3FG%: 36.5 | FT%: 76.8

SERIES: SJSU trails, 22-62 (14-21 at home)

LAST: SJSU lost both games vs. Utah State last year

NOTES: Utah State opened the season with seven straight wins before falling at Saint Mary’s on Friday, 81-73. Sam Merrill, who’s averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game, had 23 points in the loss to the Gaels. The Aggies have been playing without Neemias Queta, who has missed all eight games thus far with an injury.

TV: ESPN2 with Roxy Bernstein and Richie Schueler

Stream: with a cable login

RADIO: Justin Allegri on the call through and the TuneIn app. Search for “San Jose St. Basketball”.

A constant in the Spartans’ last five games has been the play of reserve guard Zach Chappell. Chappell posted a season-high 17 points, including 3-of-3 shooting from deep, in a loss to Portland State on Nov. 23. Chappell tallied 14 points in a win over Simpson on Nov. 17, going 5-of-7 from the field, including a pair of 3-pointers. The Spartans are shooting just 25.7% from 3 on the season, but Chappell is shooting 42.1% from deep.

Grambling State entered the game on Nov. 20 with the nation’s #1 scoring offense, averaging 114 points over its first three games. The Spartans held the Tigers 38 points under their average in an 83-76 win at the Provident Credit Union Event Center. Grambling State was 1-of-10 shooting on three-pointers.

The Spartans had 13 different players score in an 85-60 win over Simpson on Nov. 17. Zach Chappell came off the bench to score a season-high 14 points, including a pair of 3s. Seneca Knight was 6-of-8 shooting for 15 points. Craig LeCesne added 13 points in 19 minutes. Ralph Agee posted 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Harminder Dhaliwal made his collegiate debut and had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 6 minutes.

SJSU opened the 2019-20 season with a bang, defeating Hofstra 79-71 on the road on Nov. 6. Hofstra won 27 games last year, while SJSU lost 27 games. In his Spartan debut, JUCO transfer and former Wake Forest guard, Richard Washington, posted a team-high 23 points off the bench on 8-of-13 shooting. Washington scored 12 of his 23 points in the final four minutes, including a stretch of three straight 3s to put the game away. Craig LeCesne had his first career double-double with a career-high 19 points plus 11 rebounds. It was the Spartans’ first win in a road opener since 2010-11 when SJSU topped Eastern Washington, 67-60. The Spartans snapped a 21-game road losing streak dating back to 2017-18. SJSU won on the East Coast for the first time since 2001-02, when the Spartans defeated Fairleigh Dickinson at the BCA Tournament hosted by NC State in Raleigh, N.C.

The Spartans return seven players who started at least one game a season ago. Seneca Knight is the most experienced, as the sophomore started 17 games, including the final 12, of his rookie season. Brae Ivey was just behind Knight, as the former junior college transfer started 16 games last season. Craig LeCesne and Zach Chappell both started 15 games last year. Christian Anigwe, Isaiah Nichols and Trey Smith–a walk-on guard–each started one game.

Spartans head coach Jean Prioleau will have the help of six newcomers on the roster in 2019-20. The Spartans have three new junior college transfers in Richard Washington (Tallahassee CC), Eduardo Lane (Marshalltown CC) and Ralph Agee (East LA College). Washington started his collegiate career at Wake Forest, where he played eight games as a freshman before an injury caused him to miss the entire 2017-18 season. Another Wake Forest transfer will join the Spartans on the floor this season, as center Samuel Japhet-Mathias will be eligible after a redshirt season last year. The former 4-star recruit appeared in 17 games off the bench at Wake Forest as a freshman in 2016-17. Japhet-Mathias posted 6 points and 4 rebounds at No. 17 Xavier. Prioleau added two freshmen this season in guard Omari Moore and walk-on center Harminder Dhaliwal.

SJSU hopes to duplicate the success of the 1995-96 squad. SJSU won the Big West Conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament a year after going 4-23 during the 1994-95 season. The Spartans went 4-27 last season.

SJSU will play 10 games on TV this season, including three at home. SJSU hosts an ESPN networks game this year for the first time since 2010-11, when either ESPN2 or ESPNU will carry the SJSU tip against Utah State on Dec. 4. SJSU will also be on ESPN2 or ESPNU when visiting Utah State on Feb. 26. SJSU will have four non-conference games on TV, all against Pac-12 foes. The Spartans will be on CBS Sports Network when hosting Stanford at the Provident Credit Union Event Center on Dec. 14. SJSU will battle both UCLA and Arizona on Pac-12 Networks and meet Oregon State on FS1 for a neutral site game in Las Vegas. SJSU will also have four Mountain West contests on AT&T SportsNet this season — Jan. 15 at UNLV, Jan. 21 at New Mexico, Feb. 8 at Nevada and Feb. 29 vs. UNLV.

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