Aztecs don’t collapse down the stretch (???), beat Fresno State

finish
The lessons are finally paying off!

Aztecs hoops Twitter has been a pretty dark place of late, and it’s understandable. That’s kind of what you get when your team is under .500 in a bad mid-major conference, having pissed away several big leads and winning exactly zero games decided by six points or less.

So when SDSU started frittering away another double-digit second-half lead Saturday afternoon at Fresno State, our inevitable and entertaining social media nervous breakdown commenced.

We all saw it coming. We all knew how this would end.

Except … we actually didn’t this time.

SDSU miraculously pulled out of its nosedive thanks to clutch late performances by Trey Kell (or Trey Allen as the ESPN3 crew keeps calling him) and Zylan Cheatham, beating the Bulldogs 70-67 in a building where the Aztecs have struggled recently. It was the Aztecs’ first close win of the season and first win in a true road game; Their only other victories away from Viejas Arena came on neutral courts in Sacramento and Hawaii and the Thomas & Mack Center.

Credit Kell (22 points, all in the second half) for stepping up to take the big shots when the Aztecs badly needed them. This Kell doesn’t always show, as we know. But when he does, the Aztecs are mighty tough to beat.

His heroics in Fresno:

  • He splashed a 3-pointer from Dinuba after the Bulldogs had cut the lead to 54-53 inside of five minutes to play.
  • Moments later, he took an inadvertent elbow to the nuts (I think?) and promptly hit another 3 as the shot clock expired.
  • He drained a fadeaway jumper that put the Aztecs up two possessions with 1:18 left.
  • With 34 seconds remaining, he corralled a defensive rebound, got fouled and hit both free throws on the other end.

Cheatham, meanwhile, coolly hit four clutch free throws in the waning seconds after Fresno State twice made it a one-possession game. Zylan still does frustrating sophomore stuff at times, but you can never criticize his heart or motor. Nor, apparently, his cajones.

Valentine Izundo Eyezundu Izundu didn’t figure in the finish because of some very sketchy foul trouble, but he put together one of his most impressive performances of the season against Fresno State’s bigs. Izundu came off the bench to tally 8 points, 6 boards and 3 blocks, including a devastating swat that sparked a Kell fast break layup. Maybe announcers should learn to pronounce his name?

The ever efficient and workmanlike Dakarai Allen also chipped in 13 points and at least 10 quality disgusted grimaces during TV closeups.

SDSU now moves to 5-5 in its quest to secure a first-round bye at the MWC Tournament and …

Wait, hang on.

Are we …

Are we actually IN THE CONFERENCE TITLE RACE??

Seriously, if this very mediocre SDSU team manages to stumble ass-first into a share of the conference title and hoist a banner next season, that would be one of the most troll-tastic finishes possible. I now want this to happen with every fiber of my being.

The Aztecs’ road to championship glory next takes them to San Jose State on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.

LOL we’re totally going to lose to the Spartans now, aren’t we?

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Author: Aztecs Killing Him

Former proprietor of AztecsKillingHim dot com, a long-dead SDSU sports blog that was possibly dumber even than this one. On Twitter at @akh_blog.

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