In James Kinney's brief San Jose State basketball career, two games stand out:
The first one came after Kinney had averaged 27.3 points over a three-game span last season, when he shot 0 for 12 and was scoreless against Cal.
"Games like that happen to the greatest players," Kinney said. "You can't get down on yourself. Just stay confident and trust your ability."
The second was last month at historic Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan., where legions of great scorers have wilted over the years. The senior guard put up 30 points in a 70-57 loss to the powerhouse Kansas Jayhawks.
"It kind of put things in place for other guys who didn't realize how much of a chance we have to be a really good team," Kinney said.
The common thread: Absorb the lessons learned, maintain an even keel and move on.
"Your life's pretty much lived in between those two extremes," Spartans coach George Nessman said. "One of the things I like about James is he doesn't overreact to things. He has a pretty level head."
The nation's fifth-leading scorer at 22.6 points per game through Tuesday, Kinney has scored at least 18 points in each of the Spartans' nine games. He had a solid debut season with SJSU last season but couldn't live with a 9-22 record, including 1-13 in the Western Athletic Conference.
So he did something about it.
"I took that personally," he said of the losing. "A lot of it was my fault as one of the leaders of
"This year I made a point of staying in the gym. I was determined to become the best basketball player I could over the summertime."
The Spartans lost 75-54 to rival Santa Clara on Tuesday, their first lopsided defeat of the season. At 5-4 after an 0-2 start, SJSU is idle until Dec. 22.
If Kinney has his way, the Spartans will absorb the lessons, stay confident and move forward.
Before the start of Pac-12 play on Jan. 4, the Cardinal will play four games, starting Saturday at home against Pacific.
Then the schedule gets tough: Dec. 19 at No. 24 South Carolina (10-0), Dec. 22 at No. 13 Tennessee (6-1) and Dec. 29 at home vs. No. 2 Connecticut (8-0). Stanford already has beaten defending national champ and third-ranked Baylor 71-69 in Honolulu.
The window after exams and before conference play has become an annual gantlet for Stanford. Over the previous four seasons, the Cardinal has compiled a record of 137-12, but five of those defeats have come during this small segment of the schedule -- all to top-25 teams and all on the road.
Cherry has missed the Grizzlies' first seven games because of a September foot injury that did not require surgery but has been slow to heal. Cherry, who averaged 15.8 points last season and is Montana's career steals leader, is among three starters back from a 25-win team.
The Grizzlies (4-3) are hoping Cherry is close to full strength by next week when they open conference play, including a Dec. 21 visit to Sacramento State.
The senior guard topped the 1,000-point mark with a 19-point performance in the Lions' win over American on Sunday. A first-team All-Ivy League selection a year ago, Barbour is averaging 14.1 points.
Follow Jeff Faraudo on Twitter at twitter.com/CalBearsBANG.