‘Aztecs…Had to Win–Needed to Win”
The Aztecs, against all the odds, did win at 7220’-Laramie, Wyoming.
Against all the odds, altitude, poor play from their big man, and a track record of road failure this year, they got the job done.
SDSU may have secured the critical win they needed at Wyoming, to push themselves into the conversation that they be included in March Madness.
Matt Bradley, their heart and soul shooter, came out hot on the court, even with the outside temperature at 11-degrees.
He drove to the basket and dished.
He ran cross over dribbles and buried baskets.
He beat people in isolation and got his shot
He drilled 3’s from long distance, with guys in his face and on open looks.
He was shooting from Cheyenne, Gillette and Casper-long distance.
The gifted transfer from Cal was dazzling, erupting for (30 ) points in the game.
It was a spectacular opening half that made the difference. 14-points in the first 14-minutes…20-in the opening 20-minutes…
SDSU hit 10-3’s in the opening half, getting virtually no production from Nathan Mensah, Keshod Johnson or Chad Baker-Mazzara.
And State doubled Wyoming’s big man Grahame Ike, a 20-point a game guy, who had bodies all around him and did virtually nothing on offense.
Fatigue set in in the second half on both sides. The Aztecs looked winded. The Cowboys looked frustrated by the smash and mash SDSU defense.
The 10-point lead went to 1, but then Trent Pulliam hit on a drive and a fadeway jumper, and Ike missed two chip shots in a row with Mensah in his face.
It was a well earned (73-66) battle of survivors.
All this from the same team that has gotten bombed on the road, with bad losses on their resume, losses to Michigan, BYU, USU, Colorado State, USC and the painful home loss to Boise State.
It was spectacular and made you ask, where was this all season long.
Now we see as they head to the Mountain West Conference tourney, where these five pretty good teams in the league will eventually wind up facing each other come day 2-3 in the tourney.
Of course who knows what the NCAA-Selection Sunday committee will think about this type of Mountain West season we have had. Something we have never seen before, so many quality teams and really good players.
The committee might be swayed because the Pac 12 is pushing Oregon among others as a possible late addition. And the WCC is deeper than it has been in a long time,just not #1-ranked Gonzaga.
But if San Diego State can play like this in the tourney, then the bad losses don’t overwhelm the (19-7) record.
Got to play like this starting next week. It’s surely not the equal of really good teams SDSU has had over the last group of years in the Steve Fisher-Brian Dutcher era.
But the Monday night explosion against all the odds against them, pretty impressive. The Scarlet & Black were scorching. Just ask the (23-5) Wyoming Cowboys.
Had to win…needed to win…did win, maybe the only big win of the season, coming at the right time.