The San Diego State Aztecs (3-0, 0-0 Mountain West) beat the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners (0-4, 0-0 Western Athletic Conference) 51-27 depiste shooting just 26 percent.
Six or seven of shots fell halfway down then out -- yes. But the fact that SDSU's tall, strong and lengthy offense couldn't penetrate the Roadrunners' defense at all in the first half is very telling. Dwayne Polee II led the Aztecs with nine points at the half, but he only shot 2-8.
The Aztecs picked it up in the second half, however. Steve Fisher no doubt had some lovely things to say to his team at halftime, maybe one of which was, "Is this what I'm going to get for the next four years!?"
Dakarai Allen and Kevin Zabo spearheaded SDSU's second-half offensive surge. Zabo flashed a nice-looking mid-range jumper and long-range shot. He also stole a pass at half court that led to an Allen and-one. Allen made hustle plays throughout the night, but especially the second half, stealing inbound passes, playing smothering defense, grabbing offensive rebounds and converting the and-one that gave SDSU the momentum for good with 13:27 left in the game.
Fisher's defense looked top-notch all night. His squad, wearing turquoise tonight to celebrate Native American Heritage month, held the Roadrunners scoreless for the first 12:11 of the game. When Brent Wrapp finally scored a Bakersfield bucket, fans in attendance gave a sarcastic cheer.
Every time a Roadrunner neared the basket, an Aztec stood in the way with long arms in the air. SDSU ended the game with nine blocks, and the Aztecs used those long arms to get 11 steals.
SDSU five-star freshman Malik Pope saw his first game-time action this year, scoring four points in 14 minutes on the court. He hasn't played in a game since his junior year of high school -- and it definitely seemed that way. Pope had the ball stolen and blocked easily on his first two scoring attempts. But he eased into the game as it progressed.
The Aztecs will travel to Maui to play BYU in the 2014 EA SPORTS Maui Invitational on Nov. 24 at 8:30 p.m. PT.