Mountain West Basketball: CSU Bakersfield vs. San Jose State--Preview, Odds, Prediction

Mountain West Basketball: CSU Bakersfield vs. San Jose State--Preview, Odds, Prediction

Mountain West Basketball

Mountain West Basketball: CSU Bakersfield vs. San Jose State--Preview, Odds, Prediction


Mountain West Basketball: CSU Bakersfield vs. San Jose State–Preview, Odds, Prediction

Spartans host Roadrunners in non-conference action & @MWCwire

Game 10: Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (4-4) @ San Jose State Spartans (6-3)
When: Tuesday, December 6th – 7:00 PT
Where: Provident Credit Union Event Center; San Jose, CA
How To Watch: NBC Sports Bay Area, Livestream on Mountain West Network
Odds: San Jose State -8 Over/Under 123

Burn the film. Trash it. Or at least the second half anyway. That’s what the San Jose State men’s basketball team should do with its game film from Saturday’s outing against Arkansas. A competitive first 20 minutes turned into a complete rout as the Razorbacks cranked up the defensive pressure, made shots at an insanely high rate, got Bud Walton Arena rocking, and sent the Spartans packing with a 40 point defeat.

It’s one loss on the record whether you lose by 4 or by 40, and as long as head coach Tim Miles and his staff can impress that upon the roster, there’s not much of a need to break down the film of the final 20 minutes. With no disrespect to San Diego State and their fans, the Spartans will not see another team this season with the talent that Arkansas possesses. Miles can focus on what went well early on and forget about the end-game onslaught.

Sometimes it’s best to get back on the court shortly after a game like that, and it is indeed a fairly quick turnaround for SJSU, as they will host Cal St. Bakersfield Tuesday night. The Roadrunners come into the game an even 4-4, but two of those wins have come against NAIA opposition, and they have already lost to bottom-half competition from both the Ivy League and the SWAC.

The problem for the Roadrunners has been their offense, or more specifically a lack thereof. Four of their six games against DI foes have seen them score 54 points or less. Granted, they play at an incredibly slow pace, and their coach, Rod Barnes, is a veteran, defensive minded leader. But there’s really no way around the numbers, and the metrics websites rate their efficiency extremely low in virtually all categories.

CSUB lost their top three scorers from a season ago, and Barnes hoped to shore up the point guard position by bringing in talented transfer Naseem Gaskin. But the former Utah recruit has not been able to consistently stay on the floor, forcing scoring guard Kaleb Higgins to be the primary ball handler. Higgins is still the leading scorer on the team, and at 12 ppg, is the only double-figure scorer, but he could be even more effective if he was not relied upon to wear multiple hats. That has had a trickle down effect on the rest of the offense as well. They don’t use the three-pointer as much of a weapon, with far fewer attempts than most schools, but there are a few guys who can get hot and knock a couple down from the outside, primarily Higgins, Marvin McGhee, and Cedquavious Hunter. SJSU has struggled at times to defend behind the arc, and doing so tonight may be one of the few lifelines Bakersfield has to stay in this one.

The defense for the Roadrunners has been ok, but far from elite. They possess decent length and size, but are a little inexperienced and fall a tad short in the physicality department. Barnes worried in the offseason about losing his toughness and ‘grown men’ from last year, and thought it may take awhile for his new troops to mature, and handle Division I college basketball. They have actually fared decently on both ends of the glass for all of the worry.

San Jose State finds themselves at 6-3, and with four non-conference games remaining. Each one is winnable, and if they can pull off a clean sweep, the Spartans would begin conference play with 10 wins. First things first though. Even after the drubbing in Fayetteville, SJSU still grades out well in several statistical categories, including two-point field goal % offense and defense, and defensive rebounding rate. There are two areas in which they rank low – forcing turnovers, and covering the 3-point line. We looked earlier at the Roadrunners lack of a perimeter game, and they themselves have a high turnover rate, so neither San Jose State deficiency should really be exploited tonight.

Returning to the friendly confines of the home court should help too. As is often the case, role players and bench contributors tend to struggle on the road, as they are far more comfortable in familiar settings. To that point, the Spartans managed a total of 4 bench points on Saturday. When considering that the bench accounted for over one-third of the minutes played in the game, that is a bleak output. This is where the competition matters though, as even the Razorbacks subs are high-level recruits that would start for most MWC teams. SJSU has gotten good contributions from many different members of the bench on several occasions and it wouldn’t be shocking to see that take place Tuesday night.

This is a matchup that shows a lot of advantages in favor of the home team. They have a clear talent edge, and have played a much more challenging schedule. Expect Miles to have his men ready to go tonight to get the bad taste out of their mouths from Saturday’s second half rout. The Spartans possess the ultimate rim protector in Ibrahima Diallo patrolling the paint, and with the Roadrunners already struggling to make shots from the field, and both teams playing at a very slow pace, this shapes up as a super low scoring game. This seems like a game that point guard Alvaro Cardenas shines in, getting his teammates open looks galore. Expect some of the role players to get back into the groove as well, and it says here San Jose State finds a way back in the win column Tuesday night.

Prediction: San Jose State 64 Cal St. Bakersfield 51



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