The Aztecs got to play close to home in the Wooden Legacy tournament, and they made the Cal Sate Fullerton arena feel like home in the 72-52 first round victory over College of Charleston. They had a quick bus ride and a vocal fan base on their side. They also played tough defense and shot the ball well.
"When we shoot the ball well," said coach Steve Fisher, "We go from being a good team to a great team."
The Aztecs shot 57% from the field and 53% on three pointers. Their struggles from the free throw line was about their only blemish. They once again shot below 60% from the charity stripe.
Charleston had an early season win over Charlotte. And Charlotte recently beat Michigan at Michigan. So did Charleston underestimate the Aztecs and look ahead to a second round game with either No. 20 Creighton or Arizona State?
In any case, the Aztecs announced their presence with authority early and often. San Diego State took it to the Cougars on both ends of the court. Sophomore Skylar Spencer was a dominant force in the defensive paint, blocking three shots in emphatic fashion.
The Aztecs got out of the starting gate quickly for the second game in a row, proving their 21-1 lead against San Diego Christian last week was no fluke. This time it was a 20-3 start for San Diego State that put them in control. The Aztecs were up 29-7 when the Cougars went on a 9-0 run, closing the score to 13 points. But San Diego State was still able to take a 37-18 lead into the half.
Redshirt freshman Matt Shrigley made four of his first five three-point shot attempts in the first half, leading the Aztecs with 12 points at the midway point. Winston Shepard scored 11 of his 15 points in the first half and led the Aztecs in scoring for the night.
Overall it was a balanced attack for San Diego State, with four players scoring in double figures. Xavier Thames had 11 points, and J.J. O'Brien chipped in 10 points. No player for the Aztecs played more than 27 minutes, which means good minutes for bench players and a sufficiently rested group of starters to play again on Friday night.
Charleston was held to 33% shooting from the field and just 25% on three pointers. Adjehi Baru played 32 minutes and led the team with eight points.
San Diego State will take on No. 20 Creighton on Friday at 9:30 pm EST on ESPN2. Charleston will play Arizona State in the consolation bracket. Creighton defeated Arizona State 88-60 in the opening round.