If you only caught the final score, you wouldn't begin to know what happened in this hard-fought match-up between No. 24 San Diego State with a RPI ranking of 23 and an unranked McNeese State with a RPI of 241.
Maybe this will help. It was a three-point game at halftime and a 29-point margin of victory at the end for San Diego State. The Cowboys scored 18 points in each half. The Aztecs scored 21 points in the first half and 44 in the second half. Both teams shot poorly in the first half, and that's being kind. The Aztecs were 7-for-29 and missed all 10 of their three-point attempts. The Cowboys were slightly worse, shooting 7-for-31. But the Aztecs made 50 percent of their second half field goals while the Cowboys continued to shoot about 23 percent.
It took until nearly five minutes into the second half for the Aztecs to make their first three-point shot and take the lead for good. Following the Aqeel Quinn three pointer, sophomore Winston Shepard took over, scoring the next seven points and grabbing two defensive rebounds as part of a 13-0 run for the Aztecs. This gave San Diego State an 11 point lead.
But the Cowboys didn't go away. They cut the lead down to seven points a couple of different times. And then it was Winston Shepard again who ignited a 15-0 run with an emphatic dunk. Matt Shrigley came alive as well, hitting two three pointers and a layup during the run. Shrigley finished with 11 points. Shepard had 14 points and five rebounds.
San Diego State dominated the game during two big second-half runs. They shot well, defended well and took care of business. Why they didn't play this way the entire game is hard to say. When you make shots, everything else gets easier. Credit McNeese State for making the Aztecs earn this one.
Josh Davis quietly had an impressive game. He scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting and hauled in a career-high 17 rebounds. On the other end of the spectrum, Xavier Thames had just five points on 1-for-13 from the field. Ledrick Eackles led the Cowboys with 13 points.
How much the Aztecs injuries and illnesses impacted the game is hard to say. Dwayne Polee II was out for the second straight game with an illness. J.J. O'Brien is still nursing a sore and bandaged right hand. D'Erryl Williams is dealing with a bad back. So Dakarai Allen made his first start as an Aztec, and Shrigley made his second start.
Aqeel Quinn once again had a strong contribution off the bench. In 23 minutes, he had 12 points, five steals and three rebounds.
Three walk-ons got in the game as well. Desmond Maxwell nailed a three pointer against Southern Utah on Wednesday and made another one against McNesse State. Kibret Woldemichael made a three pointer tonight as well.
Next up the Aztecs host St. Katherine College from nearby Encinitas at 7 pm Pacific time on Friday, December 27.