I went into this game promising myself I wasn’t going to care about the outcome. Not after this week, when the San Diego State men’s basketball team suffered a loss to Fresno State so demoralizing it immediately changed the topic of conversation among the fans from “can SDSU play its way onto the bubble?” to “are Brian Dutcher’s players subtweeting him?”
Who was I kidding? It wasn’t going to last.
A couple of things quickly snapped me out of my apathy as I dug into the Woodstock’s pizza that acted as my CBS Sports Network subscription for the evening.
The first was that the Aztecs actually showed up motivated and with a plan, attacking the basket and dominating the paint to build a first half lead of as many as 13, and a halftime advantage of 10.
The second was … well …
We SDSU fans are not without our faults. Our oldsters stream for the exits with four minutes left in tie games. The casual fans in our season ticket base and student body won’t show up at all for middling basketball. And every now and then a random jackhole will show up in a headdress.
But to our credit, SDSU does not give a prominent courtside seat and ample media exposure to a seemingly unstable middle-aged juggalo. I’ll admit, if anything, I started to care a little bit more because I didn’t want Snake to go home happy (maybe try not to think too hard about what Snake’s home might look like).
Yep that’s me, caring about the outcome — just like good ole Charlie Brown lining up to kick that football.
Only in this analogy Lucy is a juggalo.
And I was whistled for a questionable charge while attempting to kick the football.
Wait, where was I?
Ah yes, SDSU lost 79-75 at the Pit on Saturday night after once again failing to finish in a game in which it held a late lead. It’s the third straight game that has gone exactly like that. I’ll let ESPN.com provide the nightmare fuel:
Why does this keep happening? Is it the mental fortitude of the players? A rookie head coach making tactical mistakes with the game on the line? Hard to say. I’m just watching this shit on TV, slumped in a booth after half a pitcher of Societe The Pupil.
But when this happens again and again and again, there’s more going on than just bad luck.
This time, it happened because SDSU, which found tremendous success getting ball inside early, made just two (2) shots in the final 10:58 — both Malik Pope dunks. Part of that can be attributed to Jalen McDaniels, the beast of the first half, being saddled with his fourth foul at the 9:28 mark. There were also a couple of absolute garbage charges called on Devin Watson that wiped away a basket and an important late possession.
Still, two made field goals in nearly 11 minutes?
New Mexico, meanwhile, doesn’t do much well in their rebuilding phase, but it can hit the 3 with regularity. Antonio Jackson (24 points) and Anthony Mathis combined to go 10-of-17 on treys, and each splashed a key 3 down the stretch.
Pope and Watson finished with 16 points each while McDaniels added 13. Trey Kell’s slow rolling nightmare of a senior season continued apace as he finished with just 5 points for the third time in four games. He has scored in double-figures just three times in nine games since returning from injury.
Oh, also Snake found his way onto the court during the postgame handshake because of course he did. Hopefully no Aztecs slipped on any Faygo on the way to the locker room.
The Aztecs’ next chance to actually finish a game comes Wednesday night at Viejas Arena against Colorado State. I’m going to try not to care, but I totally will.
I never learn.