One basket would do it, right at the start. That would be easiest. Or, maybe a free throw ... that would work as well. Go up 1-0, 2-0 or even 3-0, which certainly is possible with San Jose State, given the fact the Spartans jack up the 3-pointers like no other men's basketball team in the Mountain West and few others in Division I -- they have taken 571, an average of 29.5 per game, which leads the conference and ranks fourth in the nation.
It hasn't happened, though. Not at the start of a game, not at any point in a game. Not in a long while.
In a 72-47 loss on Saturday at New Mexico, the Spartans gave up a basket to fall behind 38 seconds into the game, and in staggering toward what could be only the fourth winless record ever in MW play, this 0-10 team is stuck in what has to be a dispiriting run.
Going winless is one thing. This is another ...
San Jose State has not even held a lead since early in the second half of a Jan. 15 loss at Air Force.
That was three weeks ago.
Chris Cunningham made a jump shot at the 18:44 mark to put the Spartans up 37-36, but just 28 seconds later Marek Olesinski knocked down a 3-pointer to put the Falcons ahead, and that was it.
Air Force went on to win by 15, 77-62.
Since then, San Jose State has lost at Wyoming, to then-No. 7 San Diego State, at Boise State, to UNLV and at New Mexico, going down in each game from opening tip until it's time to get out of here.
The Spartans have had their chances -- they missed the first shot at New Mexico, missed twice and turned it over twice at Wyoming before the Cowboys scored the first points of the game, and missed their first six shots against San Diego State before the Aztecs took a 2-0 lead.
And in those five games spanning 200 minutes, the Spartans have had the score tied only three times.
It was 2-2 and 8-8 at Wyoming, and it was 5-5 against San Diego State.
Those ties lasted 2:40, 29 seconds and 1:11.
That is a rough go.
Air Force, 0-16 in the Mountain West in 2008-'09, held a lead at some point in all but two of those games and had a lead in the second half nine times, which is a different type of excruciating.
San Jose State is starting a major rebuild under first-year coach Dave Wojcik at the same time it is moving to the Mountain West from the Western Athletic Conference, an extremely rough task that should sound familiar around these parts. The Spartans have played six freshmen including leading scorer Rashad Muhammad, who is averaging 14.7 points per game.
They next play Saturday against Fresno State at the Save Mart Center, but things appear bleak.
Against conference competition, San Jose State ranks last in scoring offense (56.2 ppg), scoring margin (15.8 ppg), field-goal percentage (37.2%), 3-point field-goal percentage defense (37.9%), rebounding margin (minus-6.7), turnover margin (minus-3.6) and assist-to-turnover ratio (0.8).
The Spartans still have eight chances to win a conference game, but that 15.8 scoring margin would be the worst of the three MW teams that went winless in conference play.
Air Force went 0-16 in 2008-'09, losing by an average of 3.8 points.
Colorado State went 0-16 in 2007-'08, losing by an average of 8.3 points.
And San Diego State went 0-14 in 1999-'00, losing by an average of 12.6 points.
LAST WEEK'S RESULTS
- New Mexico 78, at Utah State 65
- at Boise State 69, Air Force 58
- at Nevada 76, Colorado State 67
- at Fresno State 67, Wyoming 62
- UNLV 70, at San Jose State 46
- at Nevada 69, Air Force 56 (OT)
- at Wyoming 74, Utah State 57
- at San Diego State 65, Colorado State 56
- at New Mexico 72, San Jose State 47
- at UNLV 73, Boise State 69
Air Force last week lost at Boise State and in overtime at Nevada while playing without leading scorer Tre' Coggins, who did not make the trip because of disciplinary reasons.
The Falcons were in for a tough time without Coggins, who is averaging 17.4 points per game, 22.2% of the team total. But they also got no points from their bench all week, not a single basket.
At Boise State, Air Force had four players come off the bench for a total of 37 minutes. They took only three shots between them, and obviously missed them all.
At Nevada, five players logged a total of 40 minutes and missed all nine shots they attempted.
In nine MW games, the Air Force bench is averaging just 4.4 points per game and has hit only 28.8% of its shots (14 of 49) while logging an average of 32.1 minutes per game.
- Fresno State hit 53.3% of its shots (24 of 45) in beating Wyoming to snap a five-game losing streak, which is the highest field-goal percentage an opponent has had against the Cowboys since Colorado State hit 61.5% (32 of 52) on March 6, 2013, a span of 25 games. The Cowboys went in ranked third in the conference in field-goal percentage defense, allowing opponents to hit only 39.6%.
- Air Force, which went into that game at Boise State taking an average of 21.2 3-pointers per game, got up only six of them against the Broncos. They went 3 of 6. That is the fewest 3-pointers Air Force has taken in a MW game -- it had been nine in a loss to Utah in 2002-'03 -- and the fewest in any game since going 1 of 6 in a loss to Wright State on Dec. 8, 2010.
- New Mexico won at Utah State, running its conference record away from The Pit to 5-0. No MW team has gone undefeated on the road in league play and there have been only four teams with one road loss -- Brigham Young and San Diego State in 2010-'11, New Mexico in 2009-'10 and Utah in 2004-'05.
- The 5-0 start away from home matches the best the Lobos have had in conference play since 1978 when they were in the WAC.
- Boise State senior Jeff Elorriaga snapped out of a shooting slump in the victory over the Air Force, hitting 5 of 9 shots including 3 of 5 on 3-pointers. He had been just 3 of 25 (12%) over the previous six games including 3 of 23 on 3-pointers. That percentage isn't askew. Elorriaga has taken 121 shots this season and 106 of them have been from the 3-point line. Of his 57 makes, 50 are 3's.
- The Aztecs hit only 37.5% of their shots (21 of 56) in their victory over Colorado State, the eighth time they have won when hitting less than 40% of their shots and fourth time in the past five games.
- UNLV came from 11 down in the final 3:48 to beat Boise State, which is only part of the story. The Rebels actually came back from a double-digit deficit twice in the second half -- they were down 44-32 with 16:04 to play and then tied it at 46-46 just 4:03 later, and they were down 67-56 with 3:48 remaining before taking a 68-67 lead just 2:31 later.
- The Rebels went ahead for good on a 3-pointer with 20 seconds to go by Kevin Olekaibe, the Fresno State transfer. "It was always my dream to do it in front of my home team and home fans. Deville (Smith) made a great pass, and I knew as soon as I caught it, it was going up and it was going in," said Olekaibe, who left Fresno State to be closer to his family and ailing father, who is in hospice care after suffering multiple strokes that left him paralyzed from the waist down and unable to speak.
San Diego State failed to hit a 3-pointer in its victory over Colorado State, going 0 for 10 including 0 of 5 from guard Xavier Thames, who nevertheless led the Aztecs with 24 points.
It was the Aztecs' first game without a 3-pointer since Dec. 13, 2010, against Cal Poly, a span of 113 games.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or @rkuwada on Twitter. His "Mountain West: Week in Review" report runs Wednesdays during the Fresno State football and basketball seasons. Read his daily updates at www.fresnobee.com/bulldogs.