The San Diego State men’s basketball team led for roughly 12 minutes of the second half Sunday night against Washington State, and by as many as 9 points. It was an impressive feat considering star forward Malik Pope injured his ankle in the opening minutes of the game and didn’t play at all after halftime.
Nevertheless, late in the second half I was getting ready to write about another gutsy, gritty victory. Glory be to this amazing win spurred by senior Trey Kell, who OH MY GOD HE JUST ROLLED HIS ANKLE, TOO WHYYYYYYYYYYYY.
Kell’s injury was the turning point in a late collapse that saw SDSU lose 93-86 to the sharpshooting Cougars in a game that has presented an early season crisis for the Aztecs on a couple of fronts.
Crisis No. 1: The resume
With the loss to an undefeated but undeniably middling Washington State squad, SDSU (5-2) pretty much lost any margin for error that it had in its nonconference slate. Four games — USD, Bradley, Cal and Gonzaga — remain before MWC play, and if SDSU wants a realistic shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid, it pretty much needs to win all of them now.
Crisis No. 2: Pope and Kell’s status for Thursday
The Toreros actually look kind of decent this year, and we’ll now spend the early part of this week sweating about weather two key seniors will be able to play — and if so, how effectively. Not ideal!
In addition to the injuries, it was the 3 ball that propelled the Cougars, who drained 13-of-28 from downtown. Six of those treys came from the terrifying sophomore guard Malachi Flynn, who I’m pretty certain is Steph Curry cosplaying as Chuckie Finster.
The Aztecs, meanwhile, jacked up 30 3-point attempts of their own, which is a thing they should never, ever, under any circumstances, do.
Devin Watson led the Aztecs with 23 points while Kell, who returned hobbled after his injury, finished with 19.
Nolan Narain, who has been the hands-down most pleasant suprise of the early season with his cromulent play, had 10 points and 5 boards off the bench. The sophomore post even had the coolest play of the night, finishing an alley-oop jam from Watson that put SDSU up 67-59. Alas, those were simpler times.
The Aztecs return to action on Thursday night at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
May the lord have mercy on our ankles.