Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 18
SDSU shuts down #15 New Mexico
The Aztecs completely stifled UNM at Viejas Arena on Saturday.
After dropping two conference games in a row to UNLV and Wyoming, the Aztecs have responded strongly with wins over Nevada and New Mexico. On Saturday, SDSU hosted #15 UNM at Viejas Arena and completely dismantled them to the score of 55-34. The Aztecs held the fifteenth ranked team in the nation to season lows of both 34 points and 25% shooting. SDSU dominated the game with stifling defense, resulting in 17 turnovers for the Lobos. The Aztecs themselves were held to 40% shooting in their own building, but won the rebound battle by 15. After falling out of the rankings after their consecutive losses, the wins last weekend helped SDSU claim #22 in the AP poll and #20 in the Coaches poll.
Stifling defense and great rebounding helped stuff the Lobos. Mountain West player of the week JJ O’Brien had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Jamaal Franklin, who keyed a lot of the defensive pressure, had 10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Skylar Spencer was also impressive in limited minutes this week. Against the University of New Mexico, he was everywhere defensively, accumulating 3 steals and 2 blocks. All of the Aztecs seemed committed to playing their best defensive game.
SDSU proved it can still win without hot shooting. The Aztecs only shot 40% from the field in a home game. They were held to only 20% from beyond the arc, being completely shut out (0-6) in the second half. Even their 60% free throw shooting percentage was poor. They did what great teams do when shots aren’t dropping; they found a way to win! The hustled for loose balls and rebounds, playing a team game. The Aztecs substituted seamlessly to keep their energy and intensity, allowing 8 players minutes in double figures.
Next up for the Aztecs, is a road game against Air Force on Saturday, February 2nd.