Hemsley, Kell lead 84-47 blowout over Nicholls State

by Patrick Carr, Sports Editor

‘Twas the night before finals week, when all through the school, not a person was sleeping, not even a ghoul.

That included the San Diego State men’s basketball team, which was certainly not sleeping Thursday night.

After Monday’s win over Biola University, redshirt-freshman forward Zylan Cheatham said the team hadn’t put two good halves together.

SDSU wrapped up a grueling portion of its nonconference schedule with a thorough, 84-47 dismantling of Nicholls State Thursday. The Aztecs had played seven games in 15 days prior to Thursday’s matchup with the Colonels.

The fatigue didn’t show at all. SDSU led 44-21 at halftime, then stormed out of the halftime gates on a 10-0 run to put the game to bed before comfortably closing its 37-point win, the largest margin of victory all season.

“We weren’t greedy, we shared and moved the ball, which was nice to see,” head coach Steve Fisher said. “Winning is important, but as a coach you feel better about your team and yourself after the way you win tonight.”

Freshman point guard Jeremy Hemsley led all scorers with 20 points, tying his career-high on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting. He drove through lanes as if Nicholls State just wasn’t there.

It was perhaps a springboard for SDSU, which has struggled for consistency all year. For instance: The Aztecs throttled then-No. 14 UC Berkeley 42-13 in the second half after trailing by as many as 15 in the second half.

Then less than 24 hours later they were ran off the floor by West Virginia University. Then Sunday’s Petco Park debacle followed by a 20-point win over Biola in front of a skeptical crowd.

“We’re just trying to stay consistent, we know that if you come out and just play one half and you fall off in the second half that’s just a recipe to lose the game,” Hemsley said.

Thursday’s game was comforting to coaches, fans and players alike in that both halves were equally dominated by SDSU.

The fast break, which has mostly been absent all season, finally arrived. SDSU slammed dunk after dunk, layup after open layup on Nicholls State and had an overwhelming 22-0 advantage in fast-break points.

“Coach was telling us that one of the best things we do is fire in transition,” sophomore guard Trey Kell said. “We just try to make sure if we get a turnover or a missed shot that everyone runs the floor and if we have our shot, take it.”

It wasn’t just dunks and layups. Kell continued his hot streak from beyond the arc, hitting three of his four 3-pointers, including one in transition as part of his 15 points, four rebounds and three steals.

Not to be outdone, and visibly absent from many of SDSU’s first 10 games, was the defense that it’s been known for the past several years.

The Colonels could only muster 24.6-percent shooting from the field, and even when they broke SDSU’s full-court press, which happened more than Fisher would’ve liked, the Colonels couldn’t even find their own feet. They were whistled for six traveling calls, four in the first half.

Kell said after the game that the team wanted to improve its 3-point defense, something that’s been exposed a lot so far this season. Nicholls State’s final mark from downtown was 4-of-22 (18.2 percent).

Freshman guard Ben Perez returned after missing the last two games with a concussion. He had a career-high 11 points with three 3-pointers, two assists and two steals and provided a jolt off the bench.

“It’s good to have him back, it gives us another player who can do a variety of things,” Fisher said.

Hemsley, meanwhile, has taken the reigns of the team as a floor general and had another good all-around game with four assists, three rebounds and two steals with his 20 points.

But one of the team’s senior leaders, forward Winston Shepard, finished with his fourth career double-double — 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Now the question is how much of SDSU’s attention will be focused on next Friday’s game against Grand Canyon University and how much of that attention will be cast on the Dec. 22 date with University of Kansas.

The goal now at this point, and the result that was fully on display against the Colonels, is consistency.


One of Fisher’s hallmarks for his teams is to “rebound half our misses.” SDSU missed 31 shots and had nine offensive rebounds, but still pushed Nicholls State’s big men out of the way all night to the tone of a 45-34 rebound advantage.

The Aztecs shot 72 percent from the free-throw line, the sixth straight game they’ve shot at least 70 percent from the charity stripe. They’re now shooting 71.5 percent this season.