Men’s basketball closes out Paycom Wooden Legacy with a thud, fall to USC 58-43


Jason Freund

Head Coach Brian Dutcher gestures to his bench during SDSU’s game against UT Arlington.

by Jason Freund, Sports Editor

There are two ways to look at the 58-43 flogging the San Diego State Aztecs (4-2) took at the hands of the USC Trojans (6-0) in the final round of the Paycom Wooden Legacy.

On one hand, SDSU’s defense — despite getting consistently hammered by USC’s bigs — held the Trojans to season-lows in points (58), field goals (24) and three-pointers (4).

On the other hand, the offense — after breaking through for 73 points against Georgetown a day before — reverted back to the atrocious brick-tossing that has haunted them in games past.

Yes, the Trojans had two starters standing at 6-foot-9 and another at 6-foot-10 to swat away shots, but shooting 32.1 percent from field goal range won’t help the Scarlet and Black beat anybody, nonetheless one of the top teams in the Pac-12. 

Not even an Anaheim Arena packed with rowdy SDSU fans couldn’t bring out the offense.

At first, things looked good. SDSU scored on six of their first 11 possessions and held a 13-7 lead just nine minutes into the game.

And then… clank. Shot after shot either bounced off the basket or hit nothing but air. The Aztecs would score on just two of their final 17 possessions and missed 11 of their final first half shots.

In the second half, it seemed like the Aztecs were starting to show some semblance of offense as the shots finally started falling. SDSU took advantage of USC’s poor field goal and free throw shooting to claw their way back to within eight.

It didn’t take long for the Trojans to recover from their funk as they muscled out twelve more points against the Aztecs five to secure the win.

Senior point guard Trey Pulliam was the only Aztecs to post double-digit points with 11 while senior forward Aguek Arop dropped nine points with six rebounds in 20 minutes.

Pulliam and Arop had the first and second-highest point total for the team as the Trojans zeroed in on senior guard Matt Bradley. Bradley regularly dueled with senior guard Drew Robinson but, more often than not, Robinson came out on top.

The 6-foot-9 guard cut Bradley off at every pass and didn’t fall for his pump fake, resulting in just three points for Bradley in just 1-of-7 shooting.

SDSU didn’t even have luck at the free-throw line, but then again neither did USC. The Aztecs went a measly 4-of-11 from the charity stripe and the Trojans shot a just as poor 6-of-18.

What the Trojans did that the Aztecs couldn’t was rebound. The Trojans gobbled up 15 offensive rebounds amongst their 49 total boards, leading to 18 second-chance points.

SDSU has until Nov. 30 against Cal State Fullerton to figure out their offensive woes. Should they continue to shoot poorly, this SDSU team with NCAA Tournament aspirations may struggle to reach the peak of the Mountain West.