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San Diego State Basketball: Aztecs' pedestal has crumbled beneath them

Where are the Aztecs? No, seriously. I can't find them.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs disappointed once again, falling to the Cincinnati Bearcats last night 71-62 in overtime. Some folks, myself included, saw this game as a potential stepping stone toward righting the ship before conference play. The focus has now shifted with the defeat and it's time to stop giving the city's pride and joy the benefit of the doubt.

Some smart guy named Rafael said recently that fans "shouldn't lose sleep over the Bearcats," and that SDSU would breeze by to victory. In fairness, Cincinnati hadn't beaten a team from a conference you could name off the top of your head, and given its list of opponents and 280th-ranked scoring offense, it seemed safe to assume Cincy's offense was even worse than the Aztecs'.

So what gives?

It's hard to point out positives regarding this SDSU team going forward. Aqeel Quinn's return from injury will help, but it isn't monumental. Guys like Dakarai Allen and Angelo Chol have driven up their respective stock, but they're not the difference-maker type players that this team needs. Outside of the fact that the Aztecs have four home games in a row coming up, all against inferior competition, there's not much to write home about.

SDSU has turned the ball over 77 times in its last five games, including 36 in its last two, and owns a 1.57 turnover-assist ratio on the season (that stat is usually expressed assist-turnover ratio). After a 5-25 night from 3-point land against Cincinnati, the Aztecs now own a 27 percent mark on the season. They haven't scored more than 60 points in regulation since walloping Pittsburgh 74-57.

Freshman Kevin Zabo, once a backup point guard deserving of 15-plus minutes a game, didn't check in once last night. Matt Shrigley and Trey Kell, considered the best 3-point shooters on the team, are a combined 9-40 from deep this year -- and before you shout Dwayne Polee's name, he's shooting 21 percent. Shrigley has been averaging just 3.3 points on 21 percent shooting over the last four games. Winston Shepard still turns it over too much and can't go left, and no one really knows if his jump shot has improved because he doesn't ever shoot jumpers.

We used to think SDSU's roster was deep. Now it's looking like they're in deep trouble. Those big-time pull-up jump shots and momentum-shifting 3-pointers we saw Cincinnati hit are the exact shots that SDSU just doesn't have in its repertoire.

It looks like a convincing win against Ball State might be the only thing that keeps SDSU from sliding out of the top 25, and by "convincing" I mean that they need to win by 40.

What happened to the Aztec team that outlasted the nation's top-scoring team in BYU, trounced Pittsburgh and lost by two to third-ranked Arizona in three consecutive days? Where are the Aztecs that 34 of 35 Mountain West media voters pegged to be conference champion?

Where's the Winston Shepard that can do this?

Where's the Skylar Spencer that can do that?