Watson beneficent, Pope inspirational in ‘city championship’ win at USD

Devin Watson and USD grad Michelle Margaux stare in awe at Watson’s stat line.

For God so loved the world that he gave us this, the annual men’s basketball game between San Diego State University and the University of San Diego. And for the 31st time in 49 meetings His glory shined brightest among the wicked. The secular, publicly-educated Aztecs beat the papist USD Toreros 66-57 at the Jenny.

Jenny Craig, patron saint of diet-conscious wine moms, has a nice little crib over there in Linda Vista. The team, staff and students are unfailingly polite, plus they’re all like pre-law or a future bank officer from somewhere you’ll need a loan. It almost takes the fun out of housing them every* year.

Lord knows it ain’t really much fun. With the Aztecs a perennial contender and USD still finding its way in its post- point-shaving scandal years, the “city championship” series is almost all downside for SDSU. If they win it’s expected, if they lose it’s a disaster. San Diego State is now 11-0 in their last 11 series meetings played indoors and we shan’t mention that other time.

Peoples of all faiths and not-faiths could watch this year’s Aztecs and recognize that God/Vishnu/Jah/Gaia or whomever has blessed this team with amazing talent. Pride surely goeth before a fall but I believe it was ME who foresaw, in our preseason predictions, a future team leader and MVP:

After a dispiriting loss to WSU in the Wooden final, and with Trey Kell unable to go on his rolled ankle, SDSU needed to behold that promise. And so it was beheld!

Watson stepped up and led San Diego State wire to wire, literally. He scored the team’s first 6 points and last 4 points. He hit all six of his shots in the first half, with two 3-pointers. Watson was the only player on the floor all 40 minutes. Look at this Thames-esque stat line. Look at it!

Damnation, that is good. All those free throws came in the 2nd half, and the whole team didn’t score a field goal the last 7 minutes of the game. Oh well! Watson’s one basket after halftime was a hot one:

The other crucial contribution was from Malik Pope. The way he hobbled off in the Wooden final was distressing and familiar, so it was borderline miraculous to see him all over the court and the air on defense. Malik is so enigmatic — his talent ceiling is clearly NBA-caliber — and he’s usually the best player on the floor.

On Thursday night the recently-gimpy Pope was just 3 of 9 shooting but his 4 blocks, 2 steals and 9 rebounds set an energetic, relentless tone on defense. The Toreros kept the game within reach on the scoreboard but looked outmatched the whole game.

Kam Rooks is tall and seems like a good guy. He also needs to dunk and not attempt any hook, bunny or shot from anywhere.

It looked like the coaches gave Jeremy Hemsley one instruction: Take it to the rim, my son. He did and scored layups! Layups are high-percentage. If he keeps doing that he’ll beat the yips yet.

Next game

Sheesh! Bradley — who may or may not be one person, or a team of Bradleys — is 6 and 1 for Christ’s sake. Then Cal and Gonzaga before two conference road games.

Lace ’em up, fellas.

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Author: lemonverbena

Californian/Washingtonian, co-editor of Kabeer Thirty.

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