The San Diego State University men’s basketball team lost again, 88-78 at UNLV. It’s an outcome now all too familiar and comfortable. Even in the new bad era of SDSU hoops, this one stands out: The first loss to the Rebs on their ugly-ass home floor since the 2012-13 season, when Chase Tapley and the Tecs wore the good uniforms with SAN DIEGO and STATE above and below the numbers, respectively.
That 2012-13 team was a 7 seed and won an NCAA Tournament game, a baseline standard of success fading into distant memory and totally unimaginable for the 2017-18 Aztecs.
This game was bad on various levels. Among the badnesses:
The Runnin’ Rebs scorched SDSU for 50 second-half points. That’s ridiculous. UNLV got fast breaks off made Aztec baskets. When a Reb got the ball with Max Montana guarding him the UNLV bench yelled shoot it! Trey Kell landed on a guy and turned his ankle 3 minutes into the game. Matt Mitchell broke both his ankles (figuratively) before a UNLV three over his dead body in the 2nd half.
UNLV shot 58 percent to SDSU’s 44 percent. That won’t get it done.
There were four other Mountain West games on Saturday and the only team that scored more than UNLV was Wyoming with 90, and the Cowboys needed 13 points in overtime to beat shitty San Jose State. Think we have it bad? OK yes we do but the Spartans are 3-17! SJSU athletics should be cancelled or retracted or whatever.
Whatever alchemy our head coach long-in-waiting Dutch stirs up to determine his floor combos and minutes distribution is still a mystery stew. Jalen McDaniels started but somehow he and Montana both got 24 minutes. McDaniels should not be sitting for 16 minutes for any reason besides injury, foul trouble or disciplinary doghouse, and if he was in the doghouse he wouldn’t have started, so what the fuck.
Kam Rooks got 7 minutes and actually contributed a little, and put up a clumsy hook and a gave up a clumsy and-1. I’m rooting for Rooks, the big sad galoot, I don’t care what you people say. It’s Narain who should be getting some of those Max Montana minutes. Narain had another DNP-coach’s decision.*
Montana scored 11 points on 4 of 7 shooting, made a 25-footer, and had some nice putbacks. He also played matador defense, committed four fouls and three turnovers, including stepping on the end line while trying to inbound the ball after a made basket, possibly the dumbest form of turnover.
Did you know? Nolan Narain has made 26 of 36 from the floor this season (72 percent). Put him in, coach!
*Correction: We’ve been informed Narain didn’t even dress for the game, therefore it’s possible he was hurt, sick or otherwise unable to play. Profuse apologies to Coach Dutcher and his perhaps somewhat less suspect substitution pattern.
The loss dropped SDSU to 8th* place behind UNLV. The Aztecs aren’t winning the conference tournament this year, but they really aren’t winning it if they have to play a play-in game. The top five seeds get a bye.
When Nike and San Diego State updated the athletic program’s uniforms three years ago, it was an improvement for the football team. Not so for hoops. These jerseys aren’t awful but they aren’t good either.
Old: Really good
Current: Not great
In summation: Bring back the old unis, the old winning culture, the Aztecs that harassed and dominated teams out of the gym. This new program, man, I don’t know.
Saturday, Feb. 3 vs Air Force, 7pm at Viejas Arena. ESPN3, no TV.