Will SDSU Make It to the Sweet 16?

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images

    Steve Fisher's 17th-ranked and undefeated San Diego State Aztecs got the ultimate endorsement from Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall.

    "That's a team that's a Sweet 16 or Elite Eight type team if they get the right draw, get a couple of breaks and stay healthy," Marshall said after the Aztecs used a 21-3 run in the second half to run past the Shockers 83-69 on Saturday night.

    SDSU Beats Nationally Ranked Team

    [DGO] SDSU Beats Nationally Ranked Team
    The Aztecs fought hard for 60 minutes and it paid off. (Published Thursday, Oct 21, 2010)

    "They're dynamite."

    Marshall might be getting a little ahead of himself, considering that it's only early December. But the Aztecs do have a goal of finally getting a win or two in the NCAA tournament after going 0-6 over the years.

    First for SDSU Basketball: Aztecs Make AP Pre-Season Poll

    [DGO] First for SDSU Basketball: Aztecs Make AP Pre-Season Poll
    The San Diego State University men's basketball team is ranked 25th in the AP pre-season poll. (Published Friday, Oct 29, 2010)

    Billy White scored 11 points during the big second-half run and finished with 24 points. Kawhi Leonard had 16 points and 12 rebounds for the Aztecs, who are 8-0 for the third time in their 90-year history. They also opened with eight wins in 2006-07 and 1984-85. Leonard, a sophomore, has six double-doubles this year and 23 in his career. D.J. Gay had 14 and Malcolm Thomas 12. After having a career-high six blocked shots in a win against Saint Mary's on Wednesday night, Thomas had four against the Shockers.

    David Kyles scored 18 for Wichita State (5-2), which had won four straight coming in. Toure' Murry had 11.

    The game was part of the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.

    The Aztecs, who opened this season with their first ranking in The Associated Press Top 25, played in front of the second straight sellout crowd of 12,414 at Viejas Arena.

    Fisher said the home-court advantage has become so important that he took a moment before the game to look around at the crowd.

    "I told our players, 'You're the reason this is like it is.' And I said, 'When you go out there for that jump ball, you do the same. Just for a second, look at all the people who are here to see you and enjoy what you've accomplished, and they're here to help you accomplish more,' and they did."

    Wichita State got six straight points from Murry early in the second half, four during a 7-0 run, to take a 47-46 lead with 14:43 left. That was the Shockers' last lead.

    San Diego State scored the next 14 points in a span of 1 minute, 7 seconds, to go ahead 60-47. White started the run with a three-point play, followed by Leonard's three-point play and a fastbreak layup by White.

    White was intentionally fouled by Gabe Blair, and the referees mistakenly had Leonard take the two free throws, making one. After a review, White went to the line and made both shots. Malcolm Thomas made a shot off the inbounds pass and White had a steal and a slam dunk to finish the run and force the Shockers to call a timeout.

    David Kyles made a 3-pointer for the Shockers, their first field goal in 2½ minutes. Chase Tapley had a fastbreak layup and White banked one in for a 67-50 lead that led to another WSU timeout.

    "During that stretch where we had that run in the second half, we were so good defensively," Fisher said. "And I said that Billy looked as if he had a twin when he played. He did so many wonderful things. It wasn't just him. It was an effort keyed by our defense."

    The Shockers "came out with no fear," Gay said. "Us being ranked, us being 7-0, that meant nothing to this team. We knew that was going to happen. They kind of matched us the first half. It took us a while to adjust to their play and we came out in the second half and made them play our game, which sparked our runs and gave us the energy that we needed to come out with a 'W."'

    Fisher said he was mad at halftime because he felt the Aztecs should have been ahead by 10 points. But Wichita State made six 3-pointers in the first half.

    San Diego State used a 9-0 run, capped by Leonard's 3-pointer, to take a 31-24 lead with just more than six minutes left in the first half.

    The Shockers gradually closed the gap on 3-point shots by Demetric Williams, Ben Smith and Joe Ragland, cutting the lead to 37-36 at halftime.

    "We beat a very good team that hurts you in a lot of ways," Fisher said. "They're a lot like us. They did not let up when we had our run and got 17 ahead. Our kids know they played well and beat a good team."

    Said Marshall: "That spurt that they went on, they beat us in transition, they beat us on the boards, they were quicker to the ball and tougher with the ball."