Spartans fall 58-54 to Utah State in WAC semis

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Spartans fall 58-54 to Utah State in WAC semis

March 11, 2011BOXSCORE NCAASCOREBOARDSAN JOSE STATE PAGE
LAS VEGAS (AP) Tai Wesley had 14 points and 12 rebounds, Brockeith Pane added 16 points and No. 23 Utah State held off San Jose State 58-54 Friday night to reach the Western Athletic Conference tournament championship game.Utah State (29-3) came into the WAC tournament looking for a second title in three years and to boost its NCAA tournament credentials. A fifth trip to the WAC title game in six years certainly helps, but the Aggies want to leave no doubt by beating the New Mexico State-Boise State winner on Saturday to earn the conference's automatic bid.Eighth-seeded San Jose State (17-15) gave Utah State everything it could handle in the semifinals despite playing for the third straight day, just missing the lead in the closing seconds when Adrian Oliver's 30-footer rimmed out.Oliver finished with 16 points and Keith Shamburger added 11 for San Jose State.Utah State won its fourth straight regular-season WAC title handily, going 15-1 to finish five games ahead of second-place Boise State.The Aggies set a school record for regular-season victories by winning 26 of their final 27 games and were ranked the final seven weeks of the regular season for their longest streak in 40 years.The standard-setting season gave Utah State a double bye into the semifinals, while San Jose State had to go through two grueling games to get there.The eighth-seeded Spartans made a surprising run into their first WAC semis, beating higher seeds Hawaii and Idaho behind the strong guard play of Oliver, Shamburger and Justin Graham.San Jose State's road figured to get much harder against Utah State, a team led by six seniors and Wesley, the WAC player of the year.The Aggies swept the two games during the regular season: by seven in Logan behind Pane's stat-sheet-filling game, and again by 19 on the road when reserve guard Brian Green scored a career-high 25 points.In the third matchup, Utah State had hoped San Jose State would have tired legs after playing the previous two days, and coach Stew Morrill freely rotated players in, using nine in the first half.The Spartans didn't seem to mind.With Oliver and Shamburger again leading the way - they had 28 points each against Idaho - San Jose State kept it tight in the first half, trailing by just four after holding the Aggies to 12-of-31 shooting from the field.Utah State tried to pull away early in the second half, building a 44-34 lead, but the Spartans weren't ready to cash in their season just yet.San Jose State, after shooting poorly to open the half, started dropping a few here and there while continuing to play tight defense, pulling to 50-49 with just over 8 minutes left.The Spartans continued to hang around, getting within two on Oliver's hard drive with 51 seconds left.Oliver got San Jose's final chance after Wesley missed a free throw at the other end, holding his dribble until the closing seconds, then launching a long 3-point attempt from straightaway. It just missed, Wesley snared the rebound and made two foul shots this time, sealing the harder-than-expected win.

Former Kings forward Casspi breaks thumb in Pelicans debut

Former Kings forward Casspi breaks thumb in Pelicans debut

NEW ORLEANS — Omri Casspi has broken his right thumb in his first game with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Casspi says he's expected to miss about four weeks but hopes he can return a little sooner than that.

The forward says he jammed the thumb on his shooting hand while trying to defend Houston guard Eric Gordon in the third quarter of the Pelicans' 129-99 loss to the Rockets on Thursday night.

He says he briefly remained in the game but opted for an X-ray after it swelled up and learned it was broken.

Casspi scored 12 points while playing just under 24 minutes.

Casspi was acquired by New Orleans on Sunday night in a trade with Sacramento that also brought DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans.

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

Pelicans lose by 30, but Cousins scores 27 with 14 rebounds in debut

BOX SCORE

NEW ORLEANS -- The Boogie-and-Brow era in New Orleans is off to a highly inauspicious start.

The Pelicans' tandem of newly acquired All-Star DeMarcus Cousins and All-Star Game MVP Anthony Davis was no match for the surging Houston Rockets on Thursday night.

Reserve Lou Williams hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points in his Rockets debut after a trade from the Lakers, and Houston crushed New Orleans, 129-99.

Davis had 29 points, and Cousins finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds after he was acquired from Sacramento during the break. But New Orleans turned the ball over 20 times couldn't keep pace with the firepower of the Rockets, who hit 20 3-pointers.

Eric Gordon scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson added 17 in both players' first game in New Orleans since leaving the Pelicans. James Harden had 13 points and 14 assists.

Houston led by as many as 35 points when Gordon's free throws made it 100-65 late in the third quarter.

Patrick Beverley had 12 rebounds for Houston. Montrezl Harrell added 10 points for the Rockets, who shot 49.5 percent (45 of 91).

After New Orleans acquired Cousins, nicknamed "Boogie," in a deal involving five players and two draft choices, Pelicans general manager Dell Demps hoped Cousins and Davis would thrive playing off one another while point guard Jrue Holiday initiated offensive sets. But Holiday had arguably his worst game this season, turning the ball over seven times and finishing with only six points and four assists.

The crowd was charged up for both Cousins' debut and Davis' resumption of a sensational season following his record 52-point performance on Sunday.

Both players received rousing receptions during introductions and the crowd roared when Cousins hit a jumper for games' first points.

Cousins and Davis each scored eight in the first quarter, but it was also apparent that the integration of new personnel had New Orleans a bit out of sync. The Pelicans turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, leading to 17 Rockets points.

The Rockets also hit nine 3s in the opening half, including three each by Gordon and Williams, and led 66-50 at halftime.

By the end of the third quarter, the crowd that had been so rowdy at tip-off was starting to file out with their team down 100-67.

TIP-INS

Rockets: Houston has won seven of the past eight meetings. ... The Rockets hit at least 10 3s in a game for the 55th time in 59 games this season. ... The Rockets, now 41-18, have matched their win total for all of last season.

Pelicans: Before the game, New Orleans waived F Terrence Jones and signed G/F Hollis Thompson to a 10-day contract. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said Jones, who joined New Orleans on a one-year contract this season, was released to help him find a team where he could play more. Thompson played a little more than four minutes and scored three points. ... The Pelicans are now 14-16 at home.

UP NEXT

Rockets: Host Minnesota on Saturday night.

Pelicans: Visit Dallas on Saturday night.