Before I dive into the SDSU men’s basketball team’s win over THE ESS-EEE-CEE on Friday, I must offer an official mea culpa. It was fewer than two weeks ago that the Aztecs played a half of basketball in Tempe so heinous that I kind of had a nuclear meltdown in the game recap. I thankfully stopped short of calling this a lost season, but I sure didn’t imply that it wasn’t.
Since then, SDSU has handily beaten three really bad teams, which could easily be dismissed as irrelevant on account of those teams being really bad and stuff. But this — a gutsy 75-68 win over a possibly pretty respectable Georgia Bulldogs squad in the Wooden Legacy Tournament semifinals — was something else.
So ignore the idiot blogger boy. The Aztecs (5-1) might actually be good this year, friends.
The win over the Bulldogs was the Aztecs first over an SEC team since the 1980s, which really says more about SDSU’s scheduling than anything else. In the Steve Fisher era, the Aztecs played Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament, Florida in the NIT and that was it. So it’s not like the school snapped some big losing streak.
But hey, knocking off a Power Five school is always great. Also great was watching the Aztecs display both heart and quality depth to win after absorbing an early, demoralizing gut punch. Things looked grim as SDSU fell behind 16-4 and Malik Pope collected three fouls in the first five minutes.
Fortunately, the kids came to the rescue.
Jalen McDaniels picked a great time for his breakout game, contributing 11 points and 8 rebounds, and Jordan Schakel played a solid 15 minutes that saw him guarding hard and drawing offensive fouls/getting elbowed in the dome FOR VICTORY.
SDSU trailed by only a point at the half, and it was a taut, back and forth game into the closing minutes when the Aztecs showed something they lacked for pretty much the entirety of last season: Poise and, more specifically, the ability to have good offensive possessions with the game on the line.
Here are four consecutive possessions in the waning minutes:
- Pope field goal in the paint GOOD
- Matt Mitchell 3 from the corner GOOD
- McDaniels free throws GOOD and GOOD
- Trey Kell floater late in the shot clock GOOD
Seriously, I can stare at that all day. I’m … unfamiliar with these kind of sequences.
Devin Watson (team high 16 points) provided the dagger with a circus shot in the lane with 23 seconds to go, sending a thousand or so Aztecs fans joyously rampaging through the streets of Fullerton, which according to ESPN2’s footage coming out of commercial, are adjacent to the beach and the Griffith Observatory. Who knew?
Now, I’m not going to overreact to a good win in the same way I overreacted to that bad loss. No sir! I’d like to think I’ve learned my lesson about snap judgments and hot takes (lol I definitely have not).
But I’m feeling better than I did 10 days ago. That I can tell you for certain.
SDSU faces Washington State in the finals of the Wooden Legacy on Sunday night at … 9? NINE PM? Could be worse, I suppose.
I hate this stupid tournament so much.