It all came down to one final shot — an off-balance prayer that had the entire city of San Diego on the edge of its collective seat. The attempt was true, rattling home and sending the raucous crowd at Viejas Arena into hysterics.
Red Panda had done it.
Five bowls, flipped onto her head from atop a god damn unicycle.
There are the guys who step in on Day 1 looking like grown-ass men, able to easily get a role as an extra in the kind of pro basketball movie that stars either a Wayans brother, a golden retriever or both. Matt Mitchell or Tim Shelton circa 2007 are great examples of this.
Then there are the guys who would definitely get their IDs thoroughly scrutinized were they ever to attempt to buy a pack of smokes. Even after a redshirt season, wiry 6-10 forward Jalen McDaniels definitely falls into this category.
Every time I see McDaniels on the court, I’m struck with the strangely maternal urge to go home and bake him a pie. Eat, eat, Jalen – you’re skin and bones!
(Note: I will not actually do this. Not only should Jalen not accept homemade pastries from strange bearded men, it’s also the kind of NCAA infraction that would get a mid-major program the death penalty.)
Yet McDaniels is starting to show signs that his game is more mature than his physique might lead you to believe. In a couple of productive performances at the Wooden Legacy last weekend, McDaniels looked like a useful reserve. In the Aztecs’ 75-52 home win over Bradley Sunday afternoon, he looked like a weapon.
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.
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.
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.
There was something of a surreal feel to this afternoon’s San Diego State football game. Maybe it’s that we’re not used to seeing the Aztecs play in broad daylight in their home blacks. Maybe it was the stagnant midafternoon sizzle of this stupid late November heat wave. Maybe it was the smallish turnout for a Black Friday game with nothing really on the line.
It was probably all of those things, actually.
In sum, they created the college football version of a Thanksgiving food coma. Consider it a mildly uncomfortable, lethargic yet unmistakably pleasant end to what has been a delightful feast of a regular season.
SDSU, aided by a pretty bad New Mexico team, made sure of the pleasant outcome, as the Aztecs handled the Lobos 35-10 on the strength of another monster Rashaad Penny performance and a nearly flawless defensive performance.
Since I’m not some dipshit Doak Walker Award voter, let me begin by giving Penny his due.
Matt Mitchell showed up out of the blue in the middle of summer, a late commitment that took a lot of people by surprise. The Riverside native is 6-foot-6, 230 and sports a well-groomed mustache. He is allegedly 18 years old despite the fact that if someone were to introduce him to you as Matt Mitchell, 35-year old foreman on an offshore oil rig, you would not bat an eye.
Look, I’m not saying Matt Mitchell is a grown man posing as a teenager for some reason we do not yet understand. That would be a scurrilous rumor, the sort in which I do not traffic or condone.
Whatever the truth, it’s safe to say we’re all thrilled he’s here.
In just the fourth game of his college career, the forward turned in the most prolific scoring performance by an Aztec freshman since 2003. Mitchell scored 31 points, 26 of which came in the second half of SDSU’s 96-63 drubbing of Eastern Illinois.
San Diego State will not three-peat as Mountain West Conference Champions. That was solidified earlier Saturday afternoon when Fresno State edged past a Josh Allen-less Wyoming to win the West Division. Thanks for nothing, Josh Allen. What did we ever do to you?
Elsewhere Saturday, an unexpected win by Kansas State may have muddied SDSU’s path to a Cactus Bowl bid, and thus its larger hopes of playing a name opponent at a non-garbage destination. It was a disheartening day.