Spartans mount second-half comeback to top Sac State


Spartans mount second-half comeback to top Sac State

Ron Gleeson

The SJSU men’s hoops team did not take a lead in Saturday night’s game against Sacramento State until the 9:35 mark of the second half but it did not look back once it found itself ahead.

“When you’ve been losing the whole game and you finally overcome, that point in the game where you take the lead is kind of a relief and a confidence booster,” said forward Chris Cunningham, who led all players with 17 rebounds. “It definitely helped us pick up and told us ‘Let’s really take care of business now, let’s end this game.’”

The Spartans outscored the Hornets 22-17 from that point on to claim the 62-57 win, the team’s third win in a row.

SJSU out-rebounded Sacramento State 59-34, including 24-12 on the offensive glass, but were unable to capitalize on many second-chance possession throughout the game, narrowly outscoring the Hornets 9-8 on second-chance points.

“When you get 24 offensive rebounds, you should convert a lot of those into points — 9 points on second chance and that’s not enough,” said coach George Nessman. “You can’t play artfully every game out. You have to be able to win a variety of wins if you’re going to be a good team and I think through these first games this season we’re starting to show that.”

The Spartans’ leading scorer James Kinney, who sat for 10 minutes of the first half with two personal fouls, led the SJSU comeback in the second half. Kinney scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half and hit the go-ahead three-point shot to give SJSU its lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Guard D.J. Brown scored all of his seven points in the second half and converted seven of eight free throw attempts in the final two minutes to help seal the Spartan victory.

SJSU trailed 28-22 heading into halftime and Nessman said his message to team during the break was no remain focused on the game and to not let frustration get in the way.

“Mental challenge of don’t get frustrated, don’t get caught up in what just happened,” Nessman said, “pick something from it and just go forward, that’s all you can do. We did not play well in the first half but don’t come into the locker room and fret about it. Be resolved to go out there and play better and I think our guys got behind that spirit.”

SJSU played tough on the glass in the first half but was plagued by poor shooting and inability to capitalize on offensive rebounds. SJSU shot 25 percent from the floor in the first half while the Hornets outscored the Spartans 6-5 in second-chance points despite being out-rebounded 12-6 on the offensive glass.

Sacramento State saw its largest lead of the first half at the 10:52 mark. The Hornets finished a 11-0 run to make the score 20-8, causing those missed opportunities of converting offensive rebounds hurt even more for the Spartans.

“We weren't putting enough effort,” said guard Louis Garrett. “We’re accustomed to playing a style with a certain amount of energy and we felt that we didn’t have that in the first half.”

The Spartans’ next game is scheduled for Tuesday night against Santa Clara University.

College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark


College football roundup: Numbers tell it all at halfway mark

Football is a game of numbers. Halfway through the 2016 season, there are some pretty startling and interesting numbers at play in college football.

Number of non-offensive touchdowns scored by No. 1 ranked Alabama so far this season. If you’re facing the Nick Saban-led juggernaut, your challenge is to keep both the Tide’s offense and defense out of the end zone. 

Number of teams in the Associated Press preseason top 13 that have lost at least two games already: No. 3 Oklahoma (2 losses), No. 4 Florida State (2), No. 5 LSU (2), No. 8 Stanford (2), No. 9 Tennessee (2), No. 10 Notre Dame (5), No. 11 Ole Miss (3), No. 12 Michigan State (4), and No. 13 TCU (2). So much for the accuracy of preseason polls.

Number of folks on the college playoff selection committee who are hoping that undefeated Baylor loses a few games. That’s the entire committee. No one in college football wants to see Baylor participating in the playoffs after the sexual assault epidemic that was revealed during the off-season. 

Retirement age of Utah’s Joe Williams. The senior running back retired from football after the second game of the season due to injuries. Fortunately for the Utes, Williams “un-retired” this week and returned to the team in time to rush for 179 yards in a win over Oregon State.

Length of a potential game-winning field goal by North Carolina State kicker Kyle Bambard at the end of regulation against No. 3 Clemson on Saturday. The kick, which missed wide right by a couple of feet, would’ve given the unranked Wolfpack a 20-17 win over the unbeaten Tigers. Instead, Clemson won 24-17 in overtime. The 33-yarder was one of three missed field goals by Bambard.

Number of field goals usually-reliable Stanford kicker Conrad Ukropina has clanked off the left goal post upright in the past two weeks. Hitting the same upright three straight times would be hard to do from point blank range. Ukropina has done it from 49, 44 and 45 yards.

Washington quarterback Jake Browning’s astronomical pass efficiency rating through six games. That number would easily break the all-time NCAA record of 191.78 set by Wisconsin’s Russell Wilson (yes, that Russell Wilson) in 2011. 

Number of surprise co-leaders in the Pac-12 Conference. As noted last week, Washington and Washington State have emerged as the best teams in the Pac-12 North and lead the division with 3-0 records in conference play. The balance of power has also shifted in the South, a division traditionally dominated by the LA or Arizona schools. The co-leaders after seven weeks are Utah and Colorado, both at 3-1 in league action. Former San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre has done a fabulous job in Boulder. His Buffaloes take on Stanford in Palo Alto this weekend in a critical matchup for both teams.

Stanford’s highest scoring total in a game so far this year. The Cardinal beat USC 27-9 back on Sept. 17. Last year Stanford averaged just under 38 points per game. Inconsistent offensive line and quarterback play have been the culprits.

Number of points Michigan rolled up against Rutgers last week. After a bye week, the Wolverines figure to hit the half-century mark in their homecoming game vs. Illinois this Saturday. Coach Jim Harbaugh spent his off weekend scouting recruits and checked out Antioch High School star Najee Harris on Friday night.

Realistic candidates for the Heisman Trophy at the halfway point of the season. In order, my Heisman list looks like this: 1. Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB; 2. J.T. Barrett, Ohio State QB; 3. Jake Browning, Washington QB; 4. Jabrill Peppers, Michigan DB/LB/RB/ WR/KR; 5. Deshaun Watson, Clemson QB. 

Jackson appeared a little more mortal this week against Duke, throwing for “only” 181 yards and rushing for 144, but he is still the clear favorite with 30 touchdowns (15 each passing and running) in six games. Barrett led Ohio State to a thrilling win over No. 8 Wisconsin in overtime, while Browning and Peppers had byes. Some experts have downgraded Watson because Clemson has struggled against a few unranked opponents, but Watson has been stellar. Saturday he completed 39 of 52 passes for 378 yards and two touchdowns; he also rushed for a score. 

San Diego State running back Donnel Pumphrey ran for over 200 yards again Saturday against Fresno State and is on track to rush for over 2,000 yards this year, but his level of competition in the Mt. West Conference will prevent him from grabbing the trophy.

New AP Top 25: 1. Alabama, 2. Ohio State, 3. Michigan, 4. Clemson, 5. Washington, 6. Texas A&M, 7. Louisville, 8. Nebraska, 9. Baylor, 10. Wisconsin, 11. Houston, 12. West Virginia, 13. Florida State, 14. Boise State, 15. Florida, 16. Oklahoma, 17. Arkansas, 18. Tennessee, 19. Utah, 20. Western Michigan, 21. Auburn, 22, North Carolina, 23. Ole Miss, 24. Navy, 25. LSU. Still only two teams in the top 25 from the Pac-12, compared with eight from the SEC, but the Big Ten is the strongest conference so far this year with four teams in the top 10.

Gary Cavalli is a 40-year veteran of the Bay Area sports scene and was Executive Director of the Foster Farms Bowl and Sports Information Director/Associate Athletic Director at Stanford

Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice


Ex-Stanford star suffers facial fracture during Knicks practice

After spending a year overseas, Chasson Randle is back home trying to make the Knicks' roster.

But his effort took a serious hit during practice on Friday.

Following an incident Friday, the team disagnosed the former Stanford star with a facial contusion.

But the news was far grimmer on Sunday. A CT scan confirmed a left orbital fracture, the team announced. Randle will be re-evaluated Monday.

Randle signed with the Knicks on August 4 after spending last season with CEZ Nymburk in the Czech Republic.

The 23-year-old appeared in three games for New York's entry in the Orlando summer league, averaging 18.3 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 29.7 minutes.

At Stanford, Randle scored a school-record 2,375 points, averaging 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He was the most valuable player in the 2015 National Invitation Tournament after leading the Cardinal to the championship at Madison Square Garden.

During his senior season in Palo Alto, Randle was named All-Pac-12 First Team and was an AP Honorable Mention All-America.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.