San Diego State lost its second road game, falling to New Mexico 58-44 on Saturday. With the loss, the Aztecs and Lobos are tied for first in the Mountain West standings with a 12-2 record.
The Aztecs gave a lackluster performance shooting 32 percent from the field (21-for-65), went 2-of-10 on 3-pointers, and turned the ball over 13 times. Defensively, they struggled with rebounding and couldn’t stop New Mexico’s forward Cameron Bairstow who scored 26 points.
After the game, Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher discussed some of the key factors New Mexico executed to upset his sixth-ranked team in the country saying:
“They did to us what we say we want to do to other people. Make your opponent take hard 2s and that’s what we did tonight. We took hard 2s. They’ve got size. They’ve got strength. They’ve got veteran leaders and they’re good. They create a lot of issues for us.”
Aztecs senior guard Xavier Thames has struggled in the past four games, shooting 10 for 50. Tonight he was 3 for 15 with seven points. In fact, the only Aztecs player to score double digits at The Pit was sophomore forward Winston Shepard with 10 points.
Even when San Diego State lost on the road against Wyoming, five Aztecs scored in double digits that game (Dwayne Polee, Thames, O’Brien, Davis, and Shepard) for a total of 59 points among those five. Thames was the second leading scorer with 13 points, but his 3 for 16 (18%) shooting was his lowest field goal percentage in 13 games since McNeese State, where he shot 1-for-13. Although the Aztecs lost, it was Polee who led the team with 15 points and Shepard to help keep them alive in the remaining five minutes.
San Diego State versus Air Force, it was Shepard with 16 points, 14 of which came in the final seven minutes of the game to give the Aztecs a win over the Falcons. And against Utah State, it was freshman forward Matt Shrigley who scored a career high with 15 points, sinking four 3-pointers to aid in the Aztecs’ 12th straight home game win. It seemed as though despite Thames’ slump over the past couple of games, his teammates could step up to the calling and rise to any occasion.
But they didn’t this time. Instead, they were playing catch-up. After New Mexico’s Cullen Neal sunk a 3-pointer, the Lobos led 50-26 during the second half with just under 11 minutes left to play. The Aztecs held the Lobos to score only eight more points during the remainder of the game, but in that same time frame the Aztecs missed 11 shots including four 3-pointers and two layups.
If the Aztecs want to do well come March Madness, they need to have a more consistent offense. More importantly, they need to have their players fully prepared in case Thames, Shepard, or O’Brien struggles.
San Diego State will be heading home to play San Jose State on Tuesday at Viejas Arena. Tipoff begins at 8:05 PM PT with television coverage on CBS Sports Network.
Photo Credit: Aaron Sweet, Getty Images Sport
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