It was obvious that the Aztecs were the bigger, stronger, more athletic team, but that doesn't always show up in the box score. This time it did as San Diego State routed San Diego Christian 93-41. The Aztecs outpaced the Hawks by a consistent 26 points per half to produce a 52 point win. This was the largest margin of victory during Steve Fisher's 15 years as head coach of the Aztecs.
This was the fourth year in a row that the Aztecs have hosted the Hawks at Viejas Arena. In the three previous games, the Aztecs won by an average of 28 points.
The quick start for the Aztecs said something about their offense and a lot more about their defense. By establishing a 21-0 lead, the Aztecs took away what little hope San Diego Christian had coming into this contest. The Aztecs forced eight turnovers and 10 missed shots from the Hawks before San Diego Christian hit their first field goal with 10:35 remaining in the opening half.
In postgame remarks, San Diego Christian head coach Tim Cook had this to say about the Aztecs on defense: "San Diego State is the best defensive team that I have been on the court coaching or playing against. The length, the gap closes, the pinch downs are incredibly difficult to score against. It's an unbelievable defensive team."
To their credit, the Aztecs played well on offense too. They made their first five field goal attempts. J.J. O'Brien scored 9 out of the first 11 points for the Aztecs and chipped in an assist on Winston Shepard's layup. O'Brien played just 21 minutes but led the team with 16 points. He also added six rebounds and two assists. He was 7-for-9 shooting from the field and made both of his three point shot attempts.
"The guy that does everything that you want him to do and sometimes no one notices is J.J. O'Brien." - Steve Fisher, Aztecs Head Coach
Overall, the Aztecs shot 56.9% from the field. Five Aztecs scored in double figures. Josh Davis contributed 15 points and a team-leading 13 rebounds. Perimeter shooting was improved as well, with the Aztecs going 8-of-17 from three point land. Redshirt freshman Matt Shrigley was 3-of-6 on his three point attempts.
The Aztecs did not have the same good fortune when it came to shooting free throws. They went 11-for-25 or 44% on shots from the charity line. Shooting below 50% could spell disaster in a close game. What is disconcerting is that this was a blowout victory at home against an NAIA opponent, and the Aztecs still shot this poorly from the line. Historically Steve Fisher's teams have not shot free throws very well. Maybe the new practice facility will provide guys with the repetitions they need or maybe this is the trade-off when recruiting athletes over pure shooters.
Following the loss to No. 6 Arizona six days earlier, the Aztecs and the home crowd certainly had a lot to smile about in the victory Wednesday night. Maybe the most delighted was junior forward Dwayne Polee. After not getting off the bench in the Arizona game, Polee saw 20 minutes of game play and made the most of it. He scored 14 points, including a couple of electrifying dunks that got the crowd out of their seats.
Next up the Aztecs will participate in the Wooden Legacy tournament beginning on November 28 in Fullerton and finishing on December 1 at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
Follow Brad Best on Twitter @BradEBest