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San Diego State Basketball: What we learned from the Aztecs' win against New Mexico

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Knowledge. Oh, sweet knowledge.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Fisher and company still have five days before they travel high in the sky to play the Wyoming Cowboys at 7,000 feet.

When the Aztecs last stepped on the court, they handled their biggest rival in the New Mexico Lobos56-42. Things seemed to go right for the first time in a while on Montezuma Mesa, and SDSU demonstrated it's probably still the biggest of the big dogs in the race for the Mountain West title.

Let's take a look at what else we learned about the 12-4 Aztecs.

It's literally ALL about turnovers

That second half against the Lobos looked great, right? Winston Shepard scored 16 of his 20 points and shots were falling left and right for Fisher's squad. But here's the secret: SDSU still shot just 39 percent from the floor (right around its 40-percent average), 17 percent from long range and 65 percent from the charity stripe.

It turned the ball over just nine times, though, compared to an average of 15.5 in its four losses.

The Aztecs play a very specific brand of basketball; they eat up shot clock in their half-court sets and usually score with the clock under 15 seconds, and they force opponents to take almost the entire shot clock to get off an attempt. That's almost one minute for each team to get off a shot, so of course SDSU games will be low-scoring affairs -- very few shots are taken compared to other games around the country.

For instance, UNM and SDSU attempted 98 shots last Tuesday. When the Duke Blue Devils beat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 73-65 a couple days ago, the teams combined for 120 shots.

More turnovers equal less shots -- when shots are already at a premium for SDSU. Shooting 40 percent on 55-60 shots will get the Aztecs around 60 points and should get the job done. But 40 percent on about 45 shots? Not so much.

Trey Kell is not the point guard of the future

He's the two-guard of the future. His freshman cohort Kevin Zabo is SDSU's long-term point guard. The coaches tried Kell at point, and to their credit, they stuck with it for a good while. But at the end of the day, a team can't have a point guard with a 1.4:1.2 turnover-to-assist ratio.

Kell has more than proven his skills off the ball as a shooting guard, though -- his natural position. He was SDSU's first shooting guard off the bench against UNM, and he played quite well in that role: five points, four rebounds and just one turnover in 19 minutes. For this team to be successful now and in the future, it's clear that Kell needs to be a score-first shooting guard and Aqeel Quinn needs to be the No. 1 point guard right now.

The offense needs to run through Angelo Chol as much as possible

Before its game against UNM, SDSU had a nasty habit of dancing around the perimeter until a guard forced up a shot late in the shot clock.

But this Tuesday, we saw SDSU break apart UNM's zone defense with crisp interior passing that both set up sweet left-handed hooks from Chol and open shots on the perimeter.

Interior passing is the x-factor for SDSU's offense, but it's only a true threat when Chol is on the floor.

The former Arizona Wildcat proved he could handle an increased offensive role against the Lobos as he dominated the paint en route to 10 points on 4-5 shooting in 20 minutes. Skylar Spencer, who also played 20 minutes, is an undeniable defensive force -- but he is not a threat whatsoever on offense, other than an open dunk.

J.J. O'Brien can play at almost every position, and he can fill Chol's role at a decent level while the big man sits. But his 6-foot-7, 215-pound frame doesn't pack nearly the punch that Chol's 6-foot-9, 220-pound frame does.