Kelly Smiley, Photo Editor
Prior to this season, promises were made of an offensive resurgence and efforts to fulfill those promises have been made. However, consistency continues to allude a struggling San Diego State offense.
The Aztecs (4-2) failed to top 70 points after averaging 86 points in the previous three games and scoring 11 3-pointers against Loyola University of Chicago (7-2). Despite forcing the Ramblers to 65 points– 15 points below their season average– LUC shot 51 percent from the field and committed only seven turnovers.
SDSU, which was coming off its first 100-point game against a Division I program in a decade, showed flashbacks of last season with scoring droughts plaguing the visitors. The offensive struggles were compounded as the Aztecs failed to receive any easy points.
The men from the Mesa recorded only three attempts from the free-throw line and converted two. The Aztecs couldn’t even take solace in easy transition buckets as the Ramblers continually protected the ball.
While the first half was highly contentious between the two teams, LUC responded to every Aztec run and led for more than 13 minutes in the opening frame.
Junior forward Aundre Jackson was the sparkplug for the Ramblers in the first half with a perfect 7-for-7 period from the field for 16 points. The Aztecs responded to Jackson’s herculean effort with their interpretation of a rain dance.
SDSU hit nine 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes with six Aztecs connecting from deep. Junior guard Trey Kell, who was silent for the first half of the initial frame, drained his nine points exclusively from beyond the arc.
Despite the deadeye shooting of SDSU, it faced a 35-33 deficit heading into halftime. While the deep ball was falling, the Ramblers were limiting their miscues, committing only two turnovers and forcing SDSU to four points in the paint.
The Aztecs forced the ball out of Jackson’s hands and dared his teammates to beat them. Jackson was limited to eight points in the latter half.
With the success of both teams, both coaching staffs made the necessary adjustments. LUC began to chase the Aztecs off the 3-point line and implemented a 2-3 zone. SDSU made only two second half deep balls, but responded with 18 points in the paint.
However, the first 3-pointer came during a critical 11-0 run late in the half and gave the Aztecs their lone lead in the second frame. The 3-pointer was Kell’s seventh point of the half, who ended with a team-high 16 points, five rebounds and two assists.
The junior guard was the only SDSU player to top the double-digit mark, with six Aztecs scoring more than five points.
Redshirt sophomore Zylan Cheatham, who was 0-for-4 in the first half, attempted to provide Kell with some needed assistance in the final period. In 12 minutes, he recorded six points and four rebounds.
His usual running mate sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley, who entered this match averaging 18.2 points and 4.2 assists, ended his night with eight points and zero assists.
Redshirt sophomore forward Max Hoetzel, who scored in double-digits in the previous two games, was limited to six points on 2 of 7 shooting from the floor. Junior forward Malik Pope filled up the stat sheet for the third straight game with seven points, a team-high seven rebounds and a team-high three assists.
The Aztecs return to hardwood on the road against Grand Canyon University Dec. 7 at 6 p.m.