Aztecs escape with 81-78 win over San Jose State on the road

Credit: San Jose State Basketball

Credit: San Jose State Basketball

The Aztecs survive.

SDSU took down the San Jose State Spartans 81-78 away from home in a close battle, as Jay Pal was the savior.

The San Diego State Aztecs remain undefeated in the Mountain West Conference. Now (3-0) on the season, the Aztecs are now tied for first place in the conference along with Utah State. SDSU is (14-2) on the season and have now won their last seven games.

Jay Pal’s clutch block won the game for the Aztecs with under five seconds remaining in the game.

San Jose State falls to 7-9 on the year and (0-3) in the conference. Despite the loss, the Spartans played very well and almost upset the Aztecs at home. The Mountain West Conference is a gauntlet this season. The Spartans are in last place , but they have played in three straight competitive conference games.

The Aztecs’ defense showed up early in this game. The key for San Diego State was to force turnovers and dominate the glass. San Jose State committed four early turnovers but SDSU were unable to force one for the remainder of the first half.

A major key to San Jose State’s game plan was to be able to hit three-point shots at a consistent level. To start, it didn’t seem as if that would happen as they started out going 1-10. However, as the first half went on, the Spartans drained three consecutive triples to cut the Aztecs’ 8-point lead to just one point with just under four minutes remaining. Alvar Gardenas played well for SJSU, going 2-4 from deep in the first half.

The Spartans switched to a 1-3-1 zone about half way through the half. It certainly bothered the Aztecs offensively. Because the Spartans did a much better job of protecting the ball, the Aztecs couldn’t run in transition. The offense was forced to move the ball around and find the open look by spreading the floor and finding the gaps in the Spartans’ defense.

Lamont Butler drained two triples, and even Jaedon LeDee hit one as well from beyond the arc. Those were huge shots, and some of them bailed the offense out late in the possession. Butler and LeDee combined to score 25 of the 42 points on 8-14 shooting in the first half.

Pal provided a major spark off the bench, scoring five points and grabbing three rebounds in the first half. The transfer showcased a put-back dunk that certainly will make his highlight reel.

The Aztecs led by just one point at the break, 42-41.

The start of the second half continued as a back-and-forth affair. The Spartans continued to play a zone and depended on the three-ball. The Aztecs tried to feed LeDee in the post to keep him going and he continued to draw fouls. The forward had at least 15 drawn fouls on the night.

Despite not having a big crowd in attendance, the Spartans found energy through their bench. The bench continued to bring it after every made basket for the Spartans. That momentum enabled them to stay in the game for as long as they did. They hit some tough shots you must respect because the Aztec defenders were playing tight defense.

The game was tied at 54 with 11:50 remaining as LeDee hit his 6th and 7th free throws of the game. It was all LeDee to finish the game.

I'd like this amount to  

As crunch time approached, LeDee continued to be the primary factor for the Aztecs offensively. Butler, Micah Parrish, Reese Waters all fed LeDee the rock in the paint time and time again. It was the same old story as he drew more fouls and ended the game going 14-19 from the charity stripe. Shooting 19 free throws is ridiculous for an NBA game yet alone in college. He ended up showcasing a monster game where he finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds for his 8th double-double of the season.

The final defensive possession for the Aztecs is one that continues to be a defining one for this basketball team. They prove time and time again that when the moment is at its highest, the defense will be lockdown. Pal finished off the Spartans in typical Aztec fashion.

Up next for SDSU is this Saturday, January 13, at 10:00 am PT. They take on New Mexico on the road, who just lost to UNLV Tuesday night. It’s an early game on CBS, as the Aztecs will have another primetime game to rise up the Mountain West standings.

News & Stats

  • Butler finished with 16 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal
  • Parrish finished with 13 points, 3 assists, 1 block, 1 steal
  • Pal ended with 10 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks
(Visited 285 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *