This was a classic trap game. A lull in between upsetting two ranked Big East teams in the Wooden Legacy tournament and three days before taking on Washington from the Pac-12. But the Aztecs had just enough in the tank to overcome the University of San Diego Toreros 65-64.
Sometimes the score doesn't accurately tell you just how close the game was. Tonight's final score says it all. By the narrowest of margins, the newly ranked 24th Aztecs slipped past the Toreros in front of a spirited crowd at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
The Aztecs built up a small lead in the first half, but the Toreros fought back and went into halftime with a 32-32 tie. In the second half, the Aztecs took a 10 point lead with 6:34 remaining and finally looked like they were hitting their stride. But with the Aztecs going cold from the field and Johnny Dee knocking down consecutive three pointers for San Diego, the Aztecs led by just a point with 1:37 left.
With four seconds on the game clock and a one point lead, the Aztecs just needed to inbound the ball and run out the clock. Thames got tied up on the inbounds play, and it was ruled a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring the Toreros. Duda Sanadze got an open look an a three pointer, but it missed the mark as the Aztecs secured the rebound and time ran out.
Inside the Numbers
The Toreros outhustled and outshot the Aztecs. They fought for loose balls and defended well. But the Aztecs outrebounded the Toreros 44-29 and were 29-2 in second chance points.
Field goal shooting (36.2%), three-point shooting (33.3%) and free-throw shooting (63.3%) for the Aztecs were all below what most teams need to pull off a victory. So credit San Diego State for having enough grit and determination to find a way to win.
Who Made a Difference
San Diego State point guard Xavier Thames was a difference-maker in the final minutes. Since the Aztecs didn't make another field after Josh Davis' layup with 5:25 remaining, they relied on Thames' ball handling and free-throw shooting to seal the victory. Thames led the Aztecs with 17 points and added four rebounds and four assists. Davis lead the team with 15 rebounds. His free throw woes continue as he was just 3-of-8 from the line and finished with 10 points.
Skylar Spencer had one of his best games as an Aztec, tying his career high of 12 points and matching a season high six rebounds. Dwayne Polee II was again a big contributer off the bench. In 18 minutes, he scored 12 points.
Christopher Anderson at 5 foot 7 was the big man for USD. He was 3-of-3 on three pointers and 9-of-9 on free throws to lead all scorers with 22 points. Dee scored 21 points.