Tag Archives: ncaa basketball

#6 San Diego State Demolishes Utah State

San Diego State University Men’s Basketball took on Utah State at home in the Viejas Arena on Tuesday night. In their previous matchup, it took San Diego State a career high 31-point game by Xavier Thames and overtime to get the win on the road. In that game Utah State played very well against a dominant SDSU defense. They went 9/18 from 3-pt range. Utah State also played well defensively in that game. Tuesday night, was not the same.

San Diego State played smothering defense from start to finish. If you saw the game you know what I am talking about. They pressed and contested every single shot and did not give any easy looks at all throughout the game. They played with a lot of energy and were persistent on the defensive side of the ball. SDSU only gave up 35 points until 2:47 left in the game, when Steve Fisher put players 8-12 in the game. Utah State only managed 34.0% from the field and 5/13 from 3-pt range. Two of those 3’s were made on Utah State’s garbage-time 10-0 run to finish the game.

The Aztec offense produced early and well. Unlike the first meeting, SDSU’s role players played must more efficiently on the offensive side of the ball. Skylar Spencer looked featured in the opening minutes scoring 6 quick points at the basket. The Sophomore forward finished the game with 10 points 3 rebounds and 4 big blocks. He was getting pretty good looks and was finishing throughout the game going 5/7 from the field. They also had Matt Shrigley score a game-high 15 points off the bench. He got it going early in the first half as well as he hit three back-to-back 3-pointers, shooting 4/7 from 3 overall. They also go solid production from Josh Davis who is still nursing the knee injury. Davis went 6/10 for 12 points and 8 rebounds.

SDSU did have sub-par nights from its top-2 scorers. Xavier Thames had a season low 4 points as he had a career high 31 before. Winston Shepard had an off night, missing a lot of open looks, only scoring 4 points on 2/7 shooting. Dwayne Polee, who has been on fire as of late, also had a mild night only scoring one 3-pointer all night.

The Aztecs did not need that production though. Their depth this season is excellent. A lot of role players came alive this game, which is very promising as the NCAA Tournament approaches. If Matt Shrigley is making 3’s, than the Aztecs are going to be a very tough team to beat. Skylar Spencer is a perfect example of this. We need his presence around the basket and he needs to be an asset to our offense. Although Xavier Thames had a low scoring night, he still managed 5 assists and 5 rebounds. He is coming alive as of late with assists. It looks to me like he is trying to work on his game as a point-guard as he looks to go to the NBA next season. If these players can all play good ball and Xavier can continue to dish the ball while getting back to his high scoring self, than SDSU looks in great position to make a run in the tournament.

 

 

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Lessons Learned from the Loss in Wyoming

San Diego State University Men’s Basketball Team suffered it’s first conference loss, 2nd overall, to the Cowboys in Wyoming this past Tuesday. The Aztecs looked very sluggish at times and gave up uncharacteristic dunks and easy buckets throughout the game. Wyoming’s offense also managed to cool star player Xavier Thames with their zone scheme. With the Airforce game today, here is what SDSU’s first MWC loss means…

Live and Die By Xavier Thames…

San Diego State’s star player is by far senior point guard Xavier Thames. He averages over 18 points per game, and even more impressive, he has averaged close to 21 points per game in conference play. Tuesday night, Xavier was held without a field goal through the first half and went 3/16 overall. He scored 13 points, which was his lowest in 12 games. In games at Boise State and at Utah, where San Diego was down in the late minutes, Xavier came through in the clutch. Against Boise State, SDSU was down 14 points and he led the initial comeback run with 9 straight points . Thames also had the final assist to Dwayne Polee for the game-winning three. Maybe it was the overall play of Wyoming and the Aztec defense, but Xavier finally failed to come through in the clutch on Tuesday night.

…He Can’t Do it All

Something positive from Xavier’s off night was the play of his fellow Aztec starters. Five Aztecs, including Thames, scored in double-digits. Winston Shepard had 11 points, Josh Davis and J.J. O’Brien both had 10 points, and Dwayne Polee had a team-high 15 points off the bench. Even with the loss, this production is something to be happy about. San Diego State is much deeper this year than it has been in recent years. Say goodbye to only Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley scoring points.

SDSU has a lot of players this year that can score all with their different styles. Despite the knee injury, Josh Davis has managed to be very aggressive in the paint with both scoring and rebounds. J.J. O’Brien has been banging down low as well, but also has good ball handling skills, has a nice spin move, and can hit shallow shots. Winston Shepard has tremendous potential and is currently the Aztecs second leading scorer. He needs to continue to develop and learn to finish at the basket. His mid-range shot is very pretty though. If SDSU wants to be a serious contender in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to continue to have production out of everyone.

Dwayne Polee is Gaining Confidence

Last year Dwayne Polee was named the Pre-Season favorite for Mountain West Conference Newcomer of the Year Award. So much for that. Polee rarely got playing time last year. This year Steve Fisher is giving him the ball more and Polee is taking advantage of the opportunity by making plays.

Dwayne Polee is very lengthy, athletic, and plays terrific defense, a prototypical Steve Fisher player. Polee causes a lot of turnovers and generates points for this Aztec offense. He has been much needed firepower off the bench, and  is continuing to develop and make big shots. Most importantly, Thames and the rest of the team trust him. He will be a good addition to the starting lineup in 2014-15.

SDSU Probably Won’t Be a #1 Seed in the NCAA Tournament

There has been much talk about the top 4 seeds in the tournament this year. Although SDSU sat ranked #5 before the Wyoming loss, they still had potential to be a #1 seed with only the one loss. The loss in Wyoming pretty much seals SDSU’s fate. Or does it?

There is still a lot of basketball to be played. Arizona already lost again last night and Syracuse had a scare earlier this week. Wichita State’s schedule is ridiculously easy (they haven’t played a ranked opponent all season), but without a loss they should expect to hold onto a #1 seed. #3 Florida also plays #14 Kentucky this week and could easily lose that game as well.

First and foremost, the Aztecs need to keep on winning. They still have two games against New Mexico who was ranked earlier in the season and are currently projected to be a lock for the NCAA Tournament. There is the possibility they will have to play New Mexico a third time in the MWC Tournament, as well as playing Boise State and Wyoming again — who both gave the Aztecs troubles. On a majority of websites, SDSU sits at a #2 seed, with a few saying a #3 seed. Steve Fisher and company needs to make sure he keeps his players focused and try to run the table in the MWC.

Don’t Play Down to Your Opponent

San Diego State has a phenomenal defense which is nationally ranked. Often times this season we have seen the Aztecs play down to their opponents. It as if they aren’t playing with as much energy or urgency. Perhaps it is because they assume they are just going to win the game anyways. Well that mentality finally caught up to SDSU in Wyoming.

It seemed as if the Aztecs had control for the first quarter of the game. It also seemed as if they could run away with the game after taking a little lead. Then they allowed the Cowboys get back into it. They got slow and lazy on defense and gave up a lot of points they should not have. After Wyoming tied the game at 22-22 with 4:23 to go in the first half, the Cowboys did not look back. SDSU trailed by 9 at the half and never took the lead again. The Aztecs need to take a deep breath and come to play every game to win.

SDSU stays #5.. Big Game Wednesday @ Boise St.

The Aztecs keep winning and they’re national stance keeps strengthening.

This past weekend 5 top-10 teams lost, including #1 Arizona. Despite all these losses, SDSU kept its position at #5. SDSU’s only loss is to Arizona who dropped to #2 as Syracuse advanced to #1 after escaping #11 Duke in an overtime thriller.

The Aztecs only played one game last week. Steve Fisher was still able to gain his 300th win as the Aztec’s head coach.

SDSU played Colorado St at home who they beat pretty convincingly 65-56. Steve Fisher’s team was up by double digits primarily the entire game entering halftime with a 12 point lead. Only until the last few minutes did Colorado St. break the lead to single-digits when they went on a run.

The stellar play of senior guard Xavier Thames allowed the Aztecs to prevail. Thames scored 24 points improving his per game average to 18 points. Winston Shepard also added 17 points and 6 rebounds. Xavier Thames was also impressive on the boards with 7.

This rebound production out of Shepard and Thames was necessary with star forward Josh Davis out with a knee injury. Dwayne Polee also sat out with a sickness. Josh Davis’ production is a huge part of why SDSU is the #5 ranked team in the country. He currently averages 11.6 rebounds per game, which ranks 3rd in the entire country. SDSU got production out of J.J. O’Brien to make up for Davis.  O’Brien finished with 10 rebounds and only 1 point. J.J. is still recovering from an injured hand and Fisher has not relied on his offense game during the bulk of the season.

It is still unknown if Josh Davis will play tonight against Boise State. They will need him. Saturday night verse Colorado St. was only the second time all season (Arizona) that SDSU did not out-rebound it’s opponent. They tied, going 40-40. Dwayne Polee should play in Boise, so that may help out a bit. SDSU could use Davis’ production verse a pesky Boise St. offense.

Xavier Thames also managed to go 12-for-12 from the free throw line. The rest of the Aztecs went a combined 11-22 from the line. If SDSU wants to seriously compete in the NCAA Tournament, they will need to improve their free throw percentage. They have a ton of physical athletic players who draw fouls as they drive to the basket. They need to take advantage of their opportunities as they will get fouled a lot in tournament play. Xavier has been solid all season and currently ranks #7 on the Player of the Year Award watch-list.

Boise St. has played SDSU extremely close in recent years. They have an outstanding outside game with great 3-point shooters. This game will come down to rebounds and how the Aztec defense plays in Idaho.

From this point on the rest of the season, all Mountain West Conference teams will be playing the Aztecs very tough. At #5, it will essentially be every team in the conference’s biggest game of the season. It will be the ‘Super Bowl’ for every team, if you will. SDSU needs to take notice of this and not let their feet off the pedal. They need to keep playing dominant defense and keep up that #1 ranking in opponent FG%. New Mexico is really the only other seemingly guaranteed team to make the NCAA tournament. There are a couple bubble teams in our conference, including Boise St., who could make the tournament with a win against an excellent #5 SDSU Aztec team.

Lets play some defense, finish around the basket, at make some free throws and we will win.

SDSU Men’s Basketball Deserves Respect

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San Diego State University Men’s Basketball team has been on the rise over the last 4 season. They have made it to the NCAA Tournament in each of those 4 seasons and have been ranked the last 3. Not to mention, Steve Fisher has led the Aztecs to 8 straight 20-win seasons.

2010-11 Season saw the Aztecs ranked in the Top-10 nearly all season. The Kawhi Leonard lead Aztecs only sustained 3 losses, leading the team to a school record for 34 wins. There first 2 losses were to BYU, only to be avenged in the MWC Tournament, and the third loss was to UConn who went on to win the tournament.

My point is, SDSU lacks respect among the East-Coast bias that is NCAA Basketball and the rankings.

After losing Kawhi Leonard, the Aztecs were not ranked in the pre season. It was supposed to be a ‘rebuilding’ year. Even with all those expectations, or the lack there-of, Jamaal Franklin, Chase Tapley, and Xavier Thames came to show they were meant to be back in the tournament.

Last year they were in and out of the top 25 all season. They were a FGCU loss away from making their second Sweet-16 in 3 seasons.

Moving onto the 2013-14 season, SDSU has been getting no love. Only after back-to-back wins verse rank teams did the Aztecs crack the exclusive Top 25. After two big wins in 3 days, and the resume that Steve Fisher has built in recent years, SDSU enters the Top 25 at #24… 24?!?!

Last week they were not even among the category “other teams getting votes.” No one even considered SDSU. Only after back to back wins verse ranked teams do they get ranked. Look at the Coaches Poll, they are not even ranked. How are we not ranked in the Coaches Poll? Doesn’t the name “Steve Fisher” sell itself? I thought at least the coaches would respect Fisher and company.

This year so far our body of work suggests a ranked team. We are 5-1 with 2 wins vs ranked teams and our only loss coming to #2 Arizona, who we played tough at home. San Diego State’s resume as a program coming into this season would suggest writers and coaches would have respect for what we have done and what we are capable of at this moment in time.

Coaches and Poll Voters biggest doubts are probably because of the loss of Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley. I think that is exactly why we are playing so well this season. We are transitioning very well because we have many role players on the team.

First of all, Xavier Thames was solid two seasons ago. Last year he was injured most of the season and that hurt us. This year he is healthy and has played stellar, especially in the Wooden Legacy, winning MVP honors.

J.J. Obrien ended last season playing very well and has continued that season. He seems to always be good for 12 pts and 7 rebounds. He is a starter and does his job.

Winston Shepard has been the key to the transition. Last year he had a very limited role. This year Steve Fisher has let him play and grow similar to how he handled Jamaal Franklin and his wildness. Winston has been good at times, but is often sloppy. He is continuing to get better as a former McDonalds 5-star recruit, and his mid-range jump shot is tremendous. There are a lot of good things to come out of him.

We have bunch of role players. Dwayne Pollee and Dakari Allen have been good additions as scorers and Josh Davis has been killing the boards with Skylar Spencer getting blocks. Pollee was supposed to be Mountain West Newcomer of the year last year, and is finally making an impact. Josh Davis has a great deal of potential and is still getting into his groove as a scorer, but is playing solid defense and is a rebound machine.

Just as Steve Fisher said, SDSU just needs to keep winning and keep proving to the nation that they deserve their spot in the top 25.