Same old song and dance for Aztec men’s basketball

by Patrick Carr , Senior Staff Columnist

It’s the same old story with San Diego State’s men’s basketball team.

Good defense, again. Bad offense, again. Somehow, SDSU wins again.

On Thursday night the Aztecs hosted University of San Diego, or the “little sister,” as referred to by SDSU’s student section “The Show.” The Aztecs defeated USD 57-48 in what can be best described as a yawner, just like the game against California State University, Bakersfield.

They shot 37.3 percent from the field and less than 50 percent from the free-throw line. The Aztecs also turned the ball over 15 times.

SDSU is built around streaks. Forty-four straight wins against teams from California, 126 straight wins when leading with less than five minutes to play and 18 straight home wins.

The Aztecs also have a lot of scoreless streaks. They had a six-minute and 17-second scoreless streak from the middle to the end of the first half. Yet, their defense held USD’s offense to four points during a stretch of seven minutes and four seconds in the first half.

And then came the second half where SDSU shot 26.1 percent from the field after shooting a pretty decent 46.4 percent in the first half. Freshman guard Trey Kell said the second half was so lackluster because they didn’t play as aggressive as in the first half.

The biggest cheer of the night wasn’t the deafening “I Believe” chant before the game.

There was 9:04 left in the game when junior forward Angelo Chol made SDSU’s second free-throw (out of 10 attempts), drawing a loud and mainly sarcastic cheer from the fans, who then went back to their groaning selves when Chol clattered his second free-throw off the rim.

The Aztecs finished shooting 48.1 percent from the charity stripe. On an unrelated note, they held the Toreros to 48 points, cue the conspiracy theories.

Did I mention SDSU’s scoreless streaks in the second half? Separate ones of two minutes, 57 seconds and three minutes, 17 seconds.

And what about the turnovers? Freshman guard Kevin Zabo had two turnovers on back-to-back possessions. Junior forward Winston Shepard’s Maui magic must’ve worn off; he had three turnovers on the night including two on consecutive ill-advised attempts to drive to the basket against three defenders.

Ten of those 15 total turnovers were in the first half, when the Aztecs were at their best.

The creators of basketball probably wish SDSU’s games wouldn’t be televised for fear of corrupting the young and innocent. On Twitter, Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal called the Aztecs’ shooting woes “laughable” at times. A fan called SDSU’s performance “lethargic.”

Even if it was only by eight over the Aztecs’ “little sister,” it was a win nonetheless, which head coach Steve Fisher and the team both liked at the end of the day.

But Fisher also frequently talks about the team needing to rebound half its misses.

SDSU pretty much did that, grabbing 15 offensive boards on 32 missed shots. The Aztecs had been getting outmuscled on the glass, but were able to use their size advantage to dominate the Toreros on Thursday.

SDSU took a lot of pretty smart shots. Granted some of them didn’t go in, but the Aztecs only hurled up 11 3-pointers and made six, which was a better rate than their 28 percent 3-point clip coming into the game.

Fisher also subbed a lot of guys to keep his rotation fresh. Nine players played 13 or more minutes. Freshman forward Malik Pope saw some more action, but still looks rusty as he recovers from a leg injury.