Remember that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach as you watched the Aztecs men’s basketball team brick shot after shot at Petco Park last year? Or when they let Grand Canyon hang around just a liiiiiiittle too long? You felt it again tonight, didn’t you?
I’ll admit that I did.
USD couldn’t miss a shot during the first 10 minutes, providing those Petco flashbacks you really didn’t need right now. The Aztecs were already decimated by injuries (I think the fourth guy off the bench would have been some dude named Casey who they recruited from the ARC) so naturally they got into early foul trouble.
Fortunately, when things got hairy in SDSU’s 2016-17 opener on Friday night, they had something that was missing during last season’s early stumbles – experienced guys they could lean on and the fortitude and confidence to grind it out.
The end result?
The final score of 69-59 ended up looking cosmetically closer because the USD coach (who kind of looks like Lt. Daniels from “The Wire,” no?) kept calling timeouts and having guys foul down double-digits inside of a minute. Was he expecting Chris Walton to be at the line for the Aztecs? Must’ve been.
Want to see a fun stat? You do! Back to Twitter, then.
To explain this reversal, you need to begin with Jeremy Hemsley. The point guard started his sophomore campaign by taking over the game, scoring 25 points despite the foul trouble that held him to 28 minutes. He was 4-of-5 on threes, turned the ball over only once and added three steals and an electrifying breakaway dunk.
Trey Kell, on not his best shooting night, still scored 23 while grinding out 35 minutes. Zylan Cheatham chipped in 8 in 36.
On a night when the Aztecs were dealt a bad hand by injuries and whistle-happy officials, their core three supplied the points and the #grit . Once the newcomers find their sea legs, this team’s gonna be pretty good.
Speaking of newcomers …
Please clip and save this joke for a later game when Montaque scores more than two points, thank you.
Also, this was my first time seeing center Valentine Izundu in action, and he was absolutely the Skylar Spencer clone we were all led to expect, from the monster blocks (he had two in 16 minutes) to the funky free throw delivery. Excited to see what he can do once he’s no longer limping around.
Personal note: This was a really tough week for me and being out at Viejas tonight was the closest I’ve felt to normal in a while. Don’t let anyone tell you that sports don’t matter. I mean, they totally don’t. But they kinda do.