There have been some pretty great tandems in San Diego State men’s basketball history. Gwynn and Cage. Heath and Slaughter. Leonard and Castleberry.
Malik Pope and Devin Watson won’t play together long enough to be mentioned in that lofty company. And, as we learned Tuesday, there are plenty of reasons to doubt this season of The Pope and Watson Show will be ultimately memorable or even satisfying.
But you know what? These two are going to make things fun as hell at times.
Tonight was one of those times.
SDSU thrashed poor McNeese State 83-52 as the Aztecs’ two stars toyed with the … uh … (pauses to conduct Google search) … Cowboys like a cat batting around a dead bird. Check your shoes before you slip them on in the morning — those two might have left a decapitated McNeese in there as an offering.
Pope was his usual energetic, high-flying, oop-finishing, funky-looking-trey-draining self tallying 16 points and 9 rebounds, but we’ve long know he can get your pulse pounding when he’s right.
While we’ve long heard the same about Watson, actually seeing it is something else entirely.
The point guard finished with 20 points and 8 assists before leaving the game with a calf cramp that initially looked like something way worse. Watson crumpled beneath the basket after a garbage time layup and clutched his leg in anguish. Fortunately, he walked off under his own power, preventing me and about 7,ooo others in attendance from projectile vomiting in unison.
Has that been as bad as it looked — and it looked bad — I might have sworn off basketball entirely. Watching Watson lead the break tonight was absolutely rapturous. As soon as he identifies a defender who is a step too slow (against the Cowboys, this was all of them), or notices a guy looking the wrong direction for a beat too long, he puts the pedal down and blows by fools like they’re standing still.
Oh. He can dish, too.
Note to the guys and gals in the truck: No cutting to closeups of Kam Rooks when Watson’s got the ball in transition.
Did I mention that play came in the midst of a 33-4 run that helped the Aztecs to a 46-19 halftime advantage?
Yes, yes. I know what you’re thinking.
It’s true. McNeese is not very good. Say, would you care to see a Southland Conference preseason media poll?
There’s old Mayor McNeese, projected to come in dead last, right behind what appears to be an iron workers’ union. So there are caveats the size of zeppelins flying all around this rosy recap. But hey, the Cowboys aren’t the worst team SDSU has played this season. I suspect McNeese would beat San Diego Christian convincingly, by at least 10.
Or maybe seven or eight.
Men’s fashion update
San Diego State once again wore its easy-on-the-eyes turquoise Nike N7 unis in honor of Native American Heritage Month. I’m about as far as you can get from a sneakerhead (I own a pair of Toms because I am a filthy hippie) but even I dig those turquoise kicks.
That said, the best look of the night came courtesy of a guy who didn’t even suit up. Folks, Max Montana may be out a couple of weeks with a hyperextended knee, but that doesn’t mean he can’t vanquish SDSU’s foes … with fashion.
You do you, Max. You do you.