SDSU men’s basketball 1 win away from reaching NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden

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SDSU men’s basketball 1 win away from reaching NIT semifinals at Madison Square Garden

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Ever since everything seemed to go wrong for the San Diego State men’s basketball team on March 12-13, but since then, it’s been smooth sailing for the team.

On March 12 the team lost to Fresno State in the Mountain West Tournament championship, and then the next day they were left out of the NCAA tournament and received a No. 2 seed in the NIT

On March 15, the team rolled by  IPFW, 79-55, in the first round of the NIT  and senior forward Winston Shepard recorded the first triple-double in school history.

On Monday, the Aztecs defeated University of Washington, 93-78, in the second round, notching the team’s highest point total of the season and in Division I postseason history.

There was even some good fortune before the Aztecs tipped off Monday, as No. 4 seed Georgia Tech defeated No. 1 seed University of South Carolina, paving the way for one last home game this season for SDSU.

Now the Aztecs square off against Georgia Tech, which is coming off two NIT wins in which its average margin of victory has been 18 points.

Head coach Steve Fisher had a lot of studying to do the past couple days as the two team’s have never played each other.

“We don’t know anything about Georgia Tech yet,” he said after Monday’s win.

Shepard knew a little about them, though.

“They’ve got a tremendous scorer on their team, and they’ve got a guy who’s made some of the toughest shots you’ve ever seen,” he said.

The first guy Shepard was referring to was the team’s leading scorer, senior guard Marcus Georges-Hunt, who’s averaging 16.7 points per game and over three assists per game.

The other play Shepard mentioned was graduate-transfer guard Adam Smith, who owns a 42.1 percent 3-point percentage in his one and only season with the Yellow Jackets.

Those offensive numbers are worthy of merit, but the Aztecs are coming off a game in which they held off the Huskies, who came into Monday’s game No. 6 in points per game in the nation.

SDSU matched Washington’s fast-paced offense and worked smoothly in transition, letting its athleticism take over.

Georgia Tech doesn’t bring as much fire power to the table as the Huskies, averaging 73.7 points per game (No. 156 in the country).

A key in this game will be whether the Aztecs continue to run the fast-paced offense or revert back to a more methodical approach, something that has characterized the team’s offense throughout the year.

Shepard, Spencer for sure playing last game at Viejas

When seniors Skylar Spencer, Angelo Chol and Shepard hoisted their shadow-boxed jerseys in front of the Viejas Arena crowd on March 5 against UNLV, everyone thought it was the end.

It was supposed to be the last time the arena would host two of the most notable players in the Fisher era, Spencer (the school’s winningest player) and Shepard (tied with Spencer as the MW’s all-time winningest player).

As we know now it wasn’t the end, but tonight’s game against Georgia Tech will officially close the chapter on the players’ careers on Montezuma Mesa.

If the Aztecs win Wednesday, they will head off to Madison Square Garden in New York, looking to bring home the first NIT championship in school history.

“I was blessed to be able to get three more games in Viejas,” Shepard said, “but even if we had to play three games on the road I would still be excited.

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