Tag Archives: winston shepard

#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 Gets Gritty Comeback Win at Boise St.

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Down 64-65 with less than 20 seconds to go, one basket separated the Aztecs from a comeback victory. Xavier Thames drove to the basket taking on multiple defenders, dishing the ball to Dwayne Polee for the beautiful game-winning 3-point shot. Boise State’s Derrick Marks still had a chance as he air balled a three with two Aztecs in his face as time expired. This final segment does not even tell the whole story.

Going into the game, most knew that these two teams matchup well against each other. Over the last few years, it seems as if every Aztec/Bronco game has come down to the last play. Boise State is excellent on the perimeter with an outstanding 3-point game. SDSU has the best Opponent FG% in the country, and excels in the 3-point version of the category as well. SDSU also get tons of boards, currently ranked 16 in the country. Boise St. is third in the MWC in rebounds per game.

The 3-point scoring would tell the tail of the first half for the Boise State Broncos. They were excellent and every shot just seemed to go in. SDSU was not playing poor defense necessarily, Boise St. was just on fire. At one point Boise St. was 5/8 from 3 point range in the first half and SDSU had only shot 3 from the arc.

San Diego State went down big early 17-7. They got within two on a few occasions (24-26, 26-28), but just could not seem to cool down Boise’s shooting. The Aztecs also made a lot of poor decisions, allowing a total of 15 turnovers, 9 in the first half. This led to possessions for the Broncos who were also capitalizing on second chance points. SDSU went into the half trailing 33-42.

Josh Davis, who did not play Saturday against Colorado State, was playing with a knee brace. He was visually limited, as you can see him grimace at times. Davis bruised his knee bone in practice last week. Although the country’s 3rd leading rebounder was injured, he still brought his offensive game and made the most of his opportunity. He only managed to carral a conference play-low of 5 rebounds, but turned all of his 3 offensive boards into points. Davis played very aggressive in the paint was was dominating inside. He went 5-7 from the field for 10 points.

The Aztecs continued to struggle for the first part of the 2nd Half. Boise State was dominating going up 13 a few different occasions. With 13:37 left, SDSU was down 43-57, Boise State’s biggest lead of the game at 14. By the 11:48 mark the Broncos still had a convincing 13 point lead, besting the Aztecs 46-59. Then the comeback began.

The Aztecs notched up their defense. You could just feel the energy of SDSU’s swarming defense causing turnovers and shutting down the Boise State offense. The fans at the Taco Bell Arena were going nuts the entire game. You knew that all they wanted to do was rush the court with a victory over a #5 team. As mentioned in a previous article, the Aztec program has a bullseye on it’s back and every team in the MWC is going to give them their best game.

The Aztecs got a few turnovers which led to some points. Xavier Thames at one point had 9 straight points. Before you knew it, SDSU had gone on a 15-0 run and led the Broncos 61-59. The defense is obviously what made this happen. Boise State only managed only 23 points in the second half after scoring 42 in the first. Aztecs were consistent scoring 33 and 34 in the first and second halves, respectively.

Thames really is making a strong argument for Player of the Year with these performances. He pretty much carried the Aztecs offense on his back scoring 23 points (15 in the 2nd half) on 5/7 shooting (3/4 from 3-pt) and 10-11 from the free throw line. His one miss was somewhat crucial as it would have put the Aztecs up 63-61 (instead they were up 62-61). Mikey Thompson would go on to convert a layup which put the Broncos up 62-63.

The Aztecs did not convert on their possession then found themselves down 62-65 after a Derrick Mark’s jumper. SDSU failed again to convert, as they could not finish at the basket with less than a minute to go.

The next 2 series is what changed the game. As Marks was bringing up the ball Xavier Thames had him alone and got a steal. Thames was fouled on a layup, which looked open enough for him to finish. Unfortunately he failed to, but still got the 2 points on each of his free throws. Down 64-65, the Aztecs managed yet another stop. This brings us back to how the article began. Thames took on multiple defenders, leaving Polee open for the 3. SDSU did not have to go for the 3, as they were only down 1, but it pretty much sealed the victory.

J.J. O’Brien had one of his best games in a while even though his stat line only read 9 points and 6 rebounds. Watching the game, he looked great. He had a ton of spin moves and was finishing convincingly. O’Brien took advantage of being defended by smaller guards, going 4-6 from the field. Steve Fisher really did not ask much of O’Brien offensively, which is what explains only 9 points. He was efficient though, and that is what matters.

Winston Shepard had a pretty poor game. He looked like his sloppy self as he just could not finish. Like I have said before, the guy just tries to look too pretty. He has plenty of potential as we all know. He averages 13+ points and 5+ rebounds per game, and is definitely a big part of our success. Shepard is still growing as a player and is learning to contain his own wildness. He did have a few pretty mid-range jumpers, which is what he seems to excel at this season. Winston had 2 rebounds and 6 points on 2/9 shooting — which was a team worst, 22%.

This Aztecs team’s biggest weakness is their offense, and more specifically finishing at the rim. They really lack a 3 point shooter other than Thames. With that said, this was the kind of gritty win that the Aztecs need to have on their resume if they want to be successful in the NCAA Tournament. SDSU just needs to keep winning and the respect will keep coming.

Aztecs Drop to #25 in Latest Polls

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SDSU needs to keep up the hustle, and keep on winning. I said it before and I will say it again, SDSU lacks respect…

San Diego State Aztecs coming off 5 wins in 11 days, edging out its two opponents last week in the late minutes of the game. SDSU’s drop was probably attributed to the 1-point win over University of San Diego Toreros, who have historically been a losing program. A missed 3-pt shot as time expired sealed the victory for the Aztecs.

Still, San Diego State sits at 7-1 with its only loss of the season coming at home to the now #1 team in the country Arizona. State has a favorable record moving forward and could see itself 11-1 by the time they take on Kansas. 

Steve Fisher’s team gets a ten day rest as their next game is not until December 18th vs. Southern Utah at Viejas Arena. They will not play this entire week, which may or may not effect their overall ranking in the polls. One positive to point out is that Steve Fisher is finally getting recognition in the Coaches’ Poll. Unranked in last week’s Coaches’ Poll, SDSU now sits at #24. 

Not playing a game should theoretically not hurt their ranking, but it depends on how other teams in the nation play. 

When it really comes down to it, rankings mean nothing. The goal of this season is to get into the NCAA tournament. What the Aztecs need to do is just continue to win and everything else will fall into place. 

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!