Great defense and offense to clash in SDSU men’s basketball second round NIT matchup vs. Washington

by Ryan Posner, Sports Editor

It’s one of the most hotly contested questions throughout the basketball world:

Can a good defense stop a good offense?

That question will be on display Monday night as the San Diego State men’s basketball team takes on University of Washington in the second round of the NIT at Viejas Arena.

Going into the contest, Washington owns the sixth-best scoring offense in the country (84.1 PPG) while SDSU has the No. 3 scoring defense, holding opponents to 60.1 points per game.

Something’s got to give.

SDSU will look to avenge an ugly 49-36 loss to UW last season on Dec. 7, 2014, in Seattle. However, there is a different cast of characters for the Huskies this season, with three of the team’s top four scorers being freshman.

“They start three freshmen and play five or six freshmen in the rotation. They make you play at a pace that you’re uncomfortable with, but we are very excited to be playing,” head coach Steve Fisher said Friday.

One constant in the lineup is senior guard Andrew Andrews, who leads the team with 21.1 points per game.

Both teams flexed their strengths in their opening round matches last Tuesday.

Washington’s offense came out in full force in its 107-102 win over Long Beach State, and SDSU held IPFW, which averaged over 80 points per game, to just 55 in its 79-55 first-round win.

“It’s going to be a good game and we just have to make sure that we can slow them down a little bit, but not fully because we won’t be able to,” sophomore guard Trey Kell said.

Hemsley to still come off bench

It’s been an up-and-down season for freshman guard Jeremy Hemsley.

He had been the the team’s leading scorer nearly the entire season, but was just recently ousted by Kell who now leads him by less than a basket per game (12.5 to 12.3).

Hesmley had a stronghold on the team’s leading scorer position and was one of the most consistent sources of offense throughout the season, until suffering a bone bruise on his right foot on Dec. 10 at Fresno State.

He hasn’t started a game since, and has seen his scoring numbers slowly decline.

Steve Fisher says he is getting closer, but probably won’t recapture his role in the starting lineup against Washington.

“Jeremy is getting better. (SDSU head athletic trainer) Tom Abdenour came to my office today and said, ‘Good to go’ which means that he can be turned loose in practice, and I like that. We are getting closer to Jeremy being back to full speed physically,” he said.

Aztecs not watching too much of NCAA tournament 

Unsurprisingly, after being left out of the Big Dance this season, SDSU has not spent a whole lot of time watching the 68-team madness.

“I have not watched a single game,”  Kell said.

“I don’t even know who’s playing in it to be honest with you. I’ve got our tournament that I’m worried about,” Fisher said.

“I’ve kind of just caught glimpses of highlights and stuff like that,” senior forward Skylar Spencer said.

Whether the team is telling the truth or not, it’s apparent that there’s not a lot of hype for March Madness around the Mesa.

After making the tournament for six straight seasons heading into this year, the frustrations are just par for the course.