MJ Amey’s brilliance wasted as SJSU concedes late-lead to Boise State

MJ Amey’s 30 points not enough for SJSU

MJ Amey’s brilliance wasted as SJSU basketball concedes late-lead to Boise State

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An unforgiving and troubling trend …

Oh no. It happened again. San Jose State conceded another late lead. 

This one – a nine-point second half lead to Boise State – came just three days after SJSU surrendered a 17-point lead to Wyoming

SJSU’s 78-69 loss on Friday night is now its fourth late-game collapse of this young season. And now Spartan fans are left wondering if this means SJSU is cratering back toward irrelevance. 

Perhaps the biggest problem with Friday night’s loss is that it wastes a mind-boggling 30-point performance from SJSU (7-8, 0-2) point guard MJ Amey. 

“Just got to move on and bounce back,” Amey said in a dejected tone.

Twenty five of those 30 points came in a first half where Amey was untouchable. When he drilled four-straight shots and three-straight three-pointers to give SJSU a 19-10 lead, it imbued something special was brewing. Then he scored again … and again … and again. By the end of it, he’d totaled 25 points – four shy of his previous season-high – on 9-for-11 shooting, 5-for-7 clip from three and 2-for-2 from the line. Don’t let that distract from his five rebounds and three steals. 

Perhaps the greatest compliment one could give Amey, is that he gave flashbacks to former Spartan and 2022-23 Mountain West Player of the Year Omari Moore

But with teammates around Amey struggling, his performance is now remembered as good but not good enough. Rather than it being remarkable and enough for SJSU to upset BSU. 

SJSU wings Trey Anderson (13 points) and Tibet Gorener (three points) combined to shoot 1-for-13 from three. Perhaps the most staggering offensive lowlight is SJSU not scoring a single basket in the final 5:16 of the game as SJSU’s 65-61 lead slipped into a 78-69 defeat.

“At Wyoming I thought it was our perimeter defense that let us down and we lost on a last-second shot and tonight I thought it was our interior defense,” SJSU head coach Tim Miles said. 

BSU (10-4, 1-0 MW) power forward O’mar Stanley obliterated SJSU’s front court for 30 points and 11 rebounds. And Tyson Degenhart trailed Stanley with 21 points for the second-most on the team. 

Throughout the entire game, Miles ping-ponged SJSU center Adrame Diongue (10 points and four rebounds) and William Humer (two points and zero rebounds) in and out of the rotation but couldn’t find a formula that worked. A lack of paint presence contributed to SJSU getting outrebounded 43-23 and outscored 20-5 on second chance opportunities. 

The Broncos amassed 45 second half points a few days after Wyoming amassed 40 second half points against SJSU’s shaky defense. 

Now at 7-8 overall and 0-2 in conference play, the Spartans must win nine of their 16 conference games to become eligible for their second-straight CBI tournament appearance. If they can do it – which now seems less likely – it would be their first time making back-to-back postseason appearances. 

A pivotal piece to SJSU’s unprecedented success from a year ago was its 2-0 start. Until that point, SJSU had never started out 1-0 in conference play. But now staring down an 0-3 start with San Diego State coming to town this Tuesday, SJSU may have to wait until its back-to-back games against Air Force (Jan. 13) and Fresno State (Jan. 16) to build momentum. 

Considering SJSU still has to face New Mexico (No. 36 in NET), UNLV (No. 115 in NET) and Utah State (No. 26 in NET) this month, the Spartans could rack up six losses before February begins. 

“More than anything I want them [SJSU] to know they’re capable of winning these games and they’re this close,” Miles said showing an inch wide margin between his index finger and thumb. 

Perhaps in the gap is what SJSU fans are left wondering what could’ve been.

For the second straight game now.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire