Aztecs cruise past Spartans, 85-49, for third straight win


Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Then-junior guard Devin Watson goes up for a layup during the Aztecs’ 85-49 victory over San Jose State University on Jan. 9 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball rained down buckets on Tuesday night, defeating visiting San Jose State University, 85-49, as rain fell outside of Viejas Arena.

The Aztecs earned redemption after losing on the road to the Spartans last season, something which gave this year’s team a bit of extra motivation.

“We just wanted to get one this year. Just wanted to get this W,” junior guard Devin Watson said. “We lost to them last year at their place. We knew we had momentum here.”

The win was the third straight for the Aztecs, who improve to 11-4 overall, 3-1 in conference and 7-1 at home.

The loss drops SJSU to 3-13 on the season, and the team remains winless in Mountain West Conference play at 0-5.

The game was close for much of the first half, and SDSU carried a 32-23 lead into intermission.

The Aztecs came out of the break on a 16-2 run, however, to put the game out of reach for the visiting Spartans.

“You know no one knows how hard it is. Everyone thinks you’re just going to roll over people,” SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher said. “In the first half they made it hard on us.”

The Aztecs made it look easy in the second half, building their lead to as many as 42 points while shooting 58 percent from the field (53 percent on the game).

SJSU, in contrast, finished the game with a 31 percent field goal percentage while committing more turnovers (18) than made shots (16).

We just kept the pressure on them. Kept pressing them. Got easy baskets,” Watson said.

On offense the Aztecs were led by 17 points from senior forward Malik Pope and 15 points and six assists from Watson.

Redshirt freshman forward Jalen McDaniels added 13 points and seven rebounds while junior forward Max Montana had 17 points off the bench for the Aztecs, all of which came in the second half.

McDaniels, starting his fourth straight game, got the Aztecs second half run going with a three-point play which he followed up with a block and a rebound on the defensive end.

“I feel like when I play, even when I wasn’t starting, I’m just always comfortable out there,” McDaniels said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for a long time. I just do what I can for the team.”

The Aztecs finished with 25 assists, compared to four for the Spartans.

“The thing I’m most proud of is the way we shared the ball,” Dutcher said. “When you take care of the ball and you share the ball you give yourself a chance to win.” 

SDSU scored the final four points of the first half to help build its lead. A put-back slam from Pope on a missed layup by Watson, followed by an end-to-end layup by senior forward Trey Kell (five points, five rebounds, seven assists), sent the Aztecs into the locker room. 

The Spartans had a first half scoring drought of five minutes snapped with 5:55 to go after a layup by junior forward Ryan Welage (eight points, eight rebounds) got the team to within 20-19.

Freshman forward Keith Fisher III led SJSU with 14 points and seven rebounds.

Next up for the Aztecs is a road matchup with Boise State University on Jan. 13 in Boise, Idaho.