Aztecs Dominate the Spartans Early and Surge to 8-1 in Conference Play

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Tyler Perches
Viejas Arena, San Diego, CA

The Aztecs were standing at the peak of the Mountain West Conference coming into Saturday’s matchup against the new look Spartans and were looking to remain in first place when San Jose State came to visit. Coach Brian Dutcher’s team sure did that and more by dominating San Jose State by 21, 72-51. 

The Aztecs’ victory was mainly taken care of once again by a phenomenal first half performance.  At halftime, San Diego State opened up a commanding lead over the Spartans by 19, 33-14. 

Holding a team to only score 14 points in a single half is extremely impressive and is the lowest points scored by an opponent all season long against SDSU. In this opening half, the Aztecs only allowed San Jose State to shoot 20.8% from the field, and 10% from three-point range. 

This was a total team defensive effort and each individual Aztec defender on the court executed their assignments to perfection. Each player when inserted into the lineup was disciplined in front of the opposition, and helped cover each San Jose State player if and when they got into the paint.

Without this phenomenal first-half defensive effort, the game could have been much more of a closer outcome. But such has been the theme of this years Aztecs team, jumping out on top of the opponent early has been enough to hold on and wear down on an opponent. 

Player of the Game

The Aztec player who had the best individual performance was Forward Keshad Johnson.  Coming off two straight double-doubles, Johnson was looking to continue that trend.

Johnson did not disappoint. On this night he didn’t get a double-double, but he had a tremendous game. Johnson scored a team-high 16 points and also tied for the most rebounds with 8. 

Keshad played amazing, especially in the first half. In the opening period, he scored 12 points and had 6 rebounds. He scored in a bunch of different ways that not only made an impact on the scoreboard, but also ignited his teammates as well as the Viejas Arena crowd.

Johnson had a couple of transition dunks and one alley-oop dunk that brought the energy up so much, that the moniker Madhouse on the Mesa truly lived up to it’s name.

Also a part of Johnson’s game were a few midrange jump shots.  Keshad Johnson’s game has really stepped up in conference play. He’s a big reason why the Aztecs are 8-1 in conference play and most of it should be given thanks to his off season regiment and hard work during off game days.. 

Another player who shined was guard Matt Bradley. Bradley was the only other double-digit scorer for SDSU. Bradley scored 14 points. The majority of his scoring came in the second half.  Bradley scored  9 out of his 14 points in the final half. 

In the second half, Bradley shot 42.8% (3-7) from the field, and 50% (1-2) from beyond the arc, and knocked down all 2 of his free throws. Bradley really showed why he is a great scorer and playmaker, scoring by taking his defender to the hoop by using his big 220-pound frame.

Making some tough mid-range shots, and three-pointers was just the kind of performance needed for the Aztecs and probably would not have stretched the lead to 20 points without it. 

Another great factor was in part that SDSU took care of the basketball.  On the year,  the Aztecs turn the ball about 12.4 times a game. That is usually pretty good for a college basketball team.  Versus San Jose State, SDSU only had three turnovers which was excellent in comparison to the Spartans who had 13 turnovers. 

Even, in the loss San Jose State still  had a couple of players play well. The Spartans had two players score in double figures. The Spartans were led by Foward Robert Vaihola. Off the bench, he scored 12 points, and make 85.7% of his shots.  He gave the Aztec post defenders a lot of trouble down low. 

Another Spartans to have a very solid game was guard Omari Moore. Moore scored 11 points and led San Jose State in rebounding with 7.  Even though Moore only made (2-5) 30% of his shots, he did knock down (2-5) 40% of his three-point attempts. 

The Aztecs’ next game will be on Tuesday, January 31st when they travel to Reno, Nevada. They play Nevada (16-6,6-3) at 8:00 pm at the Lawlor Events Center. The game airs on CBS Sports Network. 

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