Tag Archives: skylar spencer

#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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SDSU Wins Challenging Road Victory in OT at Utah St.

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Although stressing out the fans, SDSU pulled through and prevailed in a tough road victory at Utah St.

Utah State had a fully packed house to host #7 SDSU, and I was honestly impressed with their fans. The Mountain West Conference has plenty of strong home field advantages and Utah State is apart of that. Their fans did an unclasp, yet San Diego-esque taunt of the opposing team when they sung the Aztecs “I Believe” chant. We believe a little more, Utah State.

It was a gritty and tough win, but SDSU prevailed. Good teams seem to win close road games.

The Aztecs were leading by 4 at half time, 28-24, but got beat 33-29 in the second half to force overtime. The game was close the entire second half, and for a period of time late in the second half, the Aggies held onto a 4 point lead. For some reason when I was watching this, it still seemed as though the game was in SDSUs hands. Although not in control, it seemed still controllable.

SDSU pulled ahead in the final minutes to take a 57-54. Xavier Thames missed a late free throw that would have put the game away for good. Spencer Butterfield, on the Aggies, hit a phenomenal three point shot with 2.5 seconds left in the game over two defenders. It was honestly a terrific shot and you have to give all the credit to the kid. Josh Davis and J.J. O’Brien were in his face playing smothering defense and yet he somehow was able to drain the 3.

The Aztecs did not panic. They went on to outscore Utah St. 17-12 in the extra period. Xavier Thames had 10 points in overtime.

For the game, Xavier Thames beasted and was ultra-clutch. He scored 31 points, setting a new career high. Thames really had a complete game as he also managed to haul in 3 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and 1 block. He shot 3-6 from 3-pt (10-21 total), including a dagger that seemed to put the game away in overtime. SDSU led 61-60, and Thames drained an extremely deep three that put the Aztecs up 4.

After that, Utah State was pretty much forced to foul. Thames also contributed 8-10 from the Free Throw line, with a handful coming in overtime. This seems to be how the season has gone though. When SDSU has a close lead late, they hold on with the almost-automatic free throw shooting from Thames.

X-FACTor: SDSU Turnover Margin +11

The win was not pretty by any means, but it is a win. Road victories in conference play are hard to come by, so SDSU should not feel disheartened by ‘barely’ beating the Aggies. This win shows America that SDSU will keep fighting to get a win and will excel with the play of Xavier Thames and their swarming defense.

San Diego St. Gaining Some Respect… #13

Finally, after a win against #16 Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, the Aztecs move up in the rankings. SDSU moves up 8 spots to #13 and Kansas only moves down 2 spots to #18.

The Kansas win was huge for San Diego State. It will also play a huge role in their NCAA Tournament resume.

The Aztecs now have wins verse three ranked teams in four tries. Their only loss against a ranked team is the now #1 ranked Arizona Wildcats. SDSU improves to 13-1 after defeating Boise St. last night at Viejas Arena.

There really is not many teams in the Mountain West Conference that can show the Aztecs much fight this season. In past seasons UNLV, Colorado St., New Mexico, Boise St., and even Wyoming were all formidable opponents. This year many of those teams’ players either graduated or went to the NBA. The Aztecs can easily see themselves with an above 25 win season this year.

The key is to keep their momentum going. They need to keep up their stout defense. The Aztecs are only getting better as they are playing together. They have a lot of young players as many of their seniors graduated last year. This core may be still primarily in tact, with the exception of Thames and Davis, next year with the highly ranked recruiting class coming in.

This is a program with its eyes on the NCAA Tournament though. Get us there and thats when the season begins. Four straight tournament opponents is pretty successful, but State wants to take that next step. The Aztecs have the defensive prowess, and the talent, to be a Sweet 16 type team. Who knows, Final Four?

#21 San Diego State’s Defense Steps Up Big Against the #16 Kansas Jayhawks

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This may be San Diego State Basketball’s biggest win in program history. Kansas is among the most prestigious basketball programs in the country, in the same realm as Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Kansas has what some consider the #1 Pick in the NBA Draft in Andrew Wiggins. But we all know that.

San Diego State’s big men came up huge in this game. The combination of Josh Davis, Skylar Spencer, and J.J. O’Brien scored a combined 30 points with 32 rebounds. Even more impressive they were able to obtain 16 offensive boards. SDSU’s big men dominated the glass and played outstanding defense. Skylar Spencer had a career high 6 blocks. He is creeping up in the top 35 in the country for blocks per game.

Xavier Thames was his loyal self with 16 points, including 4 clutch free throws to seal the game.   Winston Sheppard added 9 points. 

The real key to this game was the defense. Steve Fisher has put together phenomenal defenses with varied players over his tenure as SDSU’s coach. With a whole roster of lengthy athletic players, Fisher has been able to maximize this 2013 team’s defensive potential. The Aztecs rank 1 in opponent FG% in the entire country. They also are 1 in opponent points per game. That is a crazy stat, but one you have to respect. 

In the first half alone Kansas field goal percentage was a pathetic 20.9%. Thats not a fluke. SDSU was playing persistent D and shut down the Jayhawks. They finished sub-30% from the field to finish the game. 

As I said before, this is a huge win for San Diego and they need to continue this momentum. After beating Boise state (in a scarily-close late game), there does not seem to be anyone threatening on the Aztecs schedule for the next possibly-8 games.

#21 SDSU Keeps Rolling Verse Colorado State

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Entering the polls at #24, moving up to #20, and then dropping to #21 after beating three teams in a row by an average of 49.7 points. I said it once and I will say it again, Aztecs deserve some respect.

Maybe the pollsters took offense to the Aztecs accepting a game verse St. Katherine, a team playing in it’s first season and with less than 150 students.

The Aztecs wanted to be 11-1 going into the Kansas University matchup and had a solidified test verse Colorado St. The Rams lost 5 of their starters from last years NCAA Tournament team. They played well in the first half as 2013 transfer J.J. Avila led the way. The big man was playing very consistent until fouling out at the end of the second half and finishing with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Guard Daniel Bejarano led the Rams with 22 points.

A steady diet of defense is what led the way. The Aztec defense played phenomenal, hustling getting blocks, steals, and forcing turnovers. SDSU caused 14 turnovers, 9 alone in the first half. Colorado St is averaging only 8.7 turnovers a game this season.

The Aztecs seem to have a ton of the same player. Other than their big men Josh Davis and Skylar Spencer, most of their players are lanky, athletic players from the height range of 6′ 5″ – 6′ 8″.  Steve Fisher has got his players pressing and playing hard all over the court. He has created a defensive culture here in San Diego.

Speaking of Josh Davis, who averaged over 17 points a game last season with Tulane, he had another great rebound night. It seems rebounding is all they ask of Davis as he is a beast on the boards. He finished the game with 15 Rebounds and 7 points. He did not score a single point in the first half and had 8 rebounds. He had 4 offensive rebounds, but failed to take advantage of a few put backs.

Skylar Spencer also failed to execute on a few put backs. Spencer is an extraordinary defender and shot blocker, but also struggles in his offensive game. They Sophomore added 4 blocks to his top 50-ranking blocks-per-game average (ranked #40 at 2.58/game).

Xavier Thames continues to play phenomenal as he scored 23 points going 4-4 on free throws down the ending stretch of the game. Xavier Thames is averaging over 16 points a game this season.

Winston Sheppard continues to show his athleticism and potential scoring 17 points. He is a little wild, similar to former Aztec star Jamaal Franklin, but he is slowly learning his handles and is improving as a player every game.

The Aztecs have a lot of roll players this season. They have their scorers in Sheppard and Thames, and their rebounders in Davis and Spencer. Their bench has also been a huge factor. Players like Dwayne Polee, Aqeel Quinn, Matt Shrigley have been playing well off the bench. Each of these players are exceptional defenders as well. This depth on the bench has been a huge part of San Diego’s success so far in the 2013-14 season.

J.J. O’Brien is finally starting to come back in full swing. He was a huge part of the Aztecs success at the end of last season and has been playing well this season. He injured his hand back in the Wooden Classic, and has not been the scorer he used to be. He is slowly coming back and will be a huge part of San Diego’s NCAA Tournament run. The Aztecs are happy to have O’Brien back semi-healthy for the Kansas game.

The one thing SDSU can look to improve on is free throws and finishing. Although the Aztecs won by 10 points in Colorado, they could have easily put away the Rams sooner. They caused a few turnovers in which they could not finish with points. They missed wide open layups and embarassed themselves a few times. Also, they struggled early on to make free throws. You can argue that this was mainly because big men like Davis and Spencer were getting fouled and they are not good free throw shooters.

If SDSU wants to really challenge the Kansas Jayhawks, they will need to bring their A-game. They will need to finish when they cause turnovers, and hit clutch free throws. Anything is possible.

SDSU Basketball Keep Rollin… Thames on Fire

Xavier Thames Ranked 16th in the NCAA in 3-pt FG %
Xavier Thames Continues to produce as SDSU’s lead man

San Diego State University’s Mens’ Basketball team wins both of this weeks’ match-ups, improving to 7-1.

SDSU is continuing to stay hot behind 5th-year Senior PG Xavier Thames. With a favorable schedule over the next couple of weeks, the Aztecs could be looking ahead to Kansas with an 11-1 record.

It has not come easy though.

On Thursday night, the Aztecs saw a tough matchup verse University San Diego in a cross-city battle at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.

SDSU seemed to have control of the game through the majority of the second half, but seemingly could not put the Toreros away. USD always seems to play tough, as SDSU had dropped 4 of 6 all time at the Pavilion.

State’s shooting from the field seemed to be cold in the first half, and they had plenty of opportunities to put the game away. San Diego native Johnny Dee led the Toreros with 22 pts, hitting plenty of threes to keep USD alive.

It took a 3-pt miss as time expired for SDSU to preserve the win. A win is a win though. Xavier Thames led the way for the Aztecs with 17 pts and got help from Winston Shepard and other role players.

Xavier Thames has been the most consistent scorer for the Aztecs this season.

When SDSU has been cold from the field to start the last few games, Xavier Thames would break that ice. He led the Aztecs with 19 points verse the Washington Huskies to help get the W.

Xavier has been playing extremely well all season. He consistently makes clutch shots, and is developing into a real go-to playmaker for the Aztecs. He currently ranks #16 in the entire NCAA for 3-pt FG% at 56.7.%. Although he may not be able to keep this up, the help of our big men and role players has really helped out.

Winston Shepard has also been coming alive of late scoring 17 points Sunday, and 14 on Thursday against San Diego. He keeps showing his talents and potential, and is really coming along with the mid-range jump shot.

Winston hit his last 5/6 free throws in the closing seconds verse the Huskies to put the game away.

Another key contributor against Washington was Skylar Spencer. Coming off a 12 pt 6 reb game verse the Toreros, Skylar added 6 pts and a career high 5 blocks verse Washington. Last year, Spencer set a Mountain West Freshman record for blocks, and continues to show his defensive skills. Further developing Skylar’s offensive game may be key to Steve Fisher and the 2013-14 Aztecs.

Against Washington the Aztecs played with a lot of size.

They often played a O’Brien-Spencer-Davis line up as the 3-4-5. Putting O’Brien at the Small Forward position presents huge matchup problems for teams, and will be extremely beneficial in Mountain West Conference play.

J.J. Obrien has not been too hot of late, but that is mainly attributed to his injured right hand. It has not been made public what his exact injury is. He had a very poor offensive performance against the Toreros, going 0/10 from the field, and continued that against Washington starting 1/8. You can tell he is very limited with the injury, but his size and defensive presence make all the difference. Once we get J.J. back on board, Aztecs should see their offensive woes clear up.

Looking forward, SDSU plays 3 very beatable teams at home before opening up Mountain West play at Colorado St. Following the Colorado St. game, the Aztecs travel to the Allen Fieldhouse to play Kansas. Even though it is 4 games ahead, SDSU could see themselves 11-1 in a decent matchup vs #6 Kansas.

SDSU seems to be in line for yet another exciting season!