Well, that certainly wasn’t an ominous start to a stressful day of San Diego State athletics, no-siree. Hang on for a quick sec …
Ah, that’s better.
I would be more apoplectic about the Aztecs men’s basketball team’s 65-59 loss to Loyola Chicago today if I didn’t see it coming like a CTA bus belching black smoke up Michigan Avenue. This game had trap written all over it, with an early start time and a speedy, guard oriented – and pretty good – opponent. This was going to be a hard fought win at best and a resume-slaughtering albatross of a loss at worst.
So I guess we got the latter! How fun.
Let’s start with how it happened because I don’t think I’m ready to discuss what this loss means. Not just yet.
The Aztecs spent the first half chucking (and making!) threes as the pesky Ramblers double-teamed the post and swarmed like gnats in passing lanes. When SDSU’s hot shooting cooled after the half (shocking, right?), the Aztecs remained inept inside and Loyola opened a 10-point lead.
It probably would have helped if Zylan Cheatham and Malik Pope hadn’t spend the first 30 minutes of this game riding the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, but whatever. They’ve got some good kettle corn and family-friendly attractions down there, so it’s understandable.
Loyola, meanwhile, led by apparently-unstoppable forward
Draymond Green Aundre Jackson, had no such issues getting to the basket and didn’t turn the ball over to let SDSU get in transition. While my mind is currently trying to expunge all memory of this debacle, I seem to recall no fewer than a half-dozen near Rambler turnovers that the Aztecs juuuuust couldn’t corral.
But let’s not pin this on luck. Let’s pin it on this:
SDSU, sparked by the energetic play of Dakarai Allen and Trey Kell, finally figured some shit out and got the ball inside late, even taking a short-lived 1-point lead, but those eight minutes of cromulent basketball couldn’t erase the crapulence that preceded it.
What did get erased, however, are the positive vibes and solid resume the Aztecs (4-2) had accumulated after the Cal win. This isn’t exactly a bad loss; it’s a true road defeat against a solid team that has a chance at sneaking into the RPI Top 100 by season’s end.
But with the MWC in shambles as a basketball (and all the other sports) league, the chance to secure solid wins moving forward are getting mighty scarce. I would imagine that the Aztecs now need to run the table in non-conference to have a shot at the NCAA Tourney if they fall flat in Vegas.
That sounds simple enough!
Let’s see, who’s next?
Pass the Chianti.