Aztecs’ offense needs more Waters to grow

Reese Waters against Fullerton. Friday will be Waters first trip to play BYU in Provo. (Deanna Goldberg/EVT)

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

Reese Waters is coming off one of his better games of the season in the loss at Colorado State

The San Diego State Aztecs are in the midst of a rough stretch of games where they are set to face the best of the best in the Mountain West.

Four of their next five opponents (Utah State twice) have a shot at winning the conference, and now, more than ever, is the time for them to get back on track.

Losers of three of their last five games, the Aztecs are in need of a spark on offense.

The Aztecs are fourth in the Mountain West in scoring, averaging 76.0 points per game.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

Brian Dutcher and his squad are tied for last place in the Mountain West along with Boise State in field goal percentage at 44.8% while attempting the fourth-most shots (1,240). Furthermore, SDSU is last in the conference in three-point percentage at 31.9%. They are also ninth in the conference in assists per game at only 12.71.

The Aztecs were picked to finish first in the conference in the preseason media poll. If they want to turn that into a reality, those numbers need to improve drastically.

Reese Waters, voted by the same media as Preseason Newcomer of the Year, is someone who can help turn that around. The Long Beach native is averaging a career-high 11.9 points per game and is shooting 44.4% from the floor. His FG% is second on the team among players with at least 70 field goal attempts. Waters is shooting the ball at a high level, and quite frankly, on nights like Tuesday against Colorado State, he needs to shoot the ball more and be heavily involved in the Aztecs’ offense.

The Aztecs like to run in transition and score with pace. However, sometimes, they need to slow things down and find a rhythm on the offensive end to beat certain opponents. If Dutcher and his squad want to beat the likes of Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, and even on the road at Wyoming, they will need someone who can score consistently aside from Jaedon LeDee.

LeDee has been that guy all season long. He has done a great job of scoring near the rim and even has an above-average mid-range game. The mid-season John Wooden Watch List candidate can score with ease, averaging 20.5 points per game, 22nd-best in the nation.

LeDee drains a lot of energy during the game, trying to box out opponents and score with multiple defenders surrounding him. That can eventually wear a player out during the course of a 40-minute contest.

Waters needs to take some of that load off and get the ball in his own hands for a high-percentage shot.

Against CSU on Tuesday night, Waters was a huge reason the Aztecs stayed in the game and eventually took a late lead. He shot 7-9 from the field in a game that the Aztecs shot 45% as a team. SDSU needs Waters to attempt more shots.

The former Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year started the campaign off strong, scoring at least 13 points in the first seven games. He poured in 24 in the win over Cal, earning MVP honors in the SoCal Showcase.

Weeks later, Waters scored 22 points on the road at Gonzaga in a massive upset win, shooting 60% from the floor. Waters shot 66.7% from the field and a perfect 10-10 from the line in the win against the Golden Bears. When he is feeling it, the Aztecs surely benefit from it.

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After the win at The Kennel, Waters talked about struggling in practice leading up to the game. He also mentioned talking with the coaches and knowing when and when not to shoot the ball.

Waters is known to be more on the quieter side. He patiently leads by example. Waters came off the bench at USC for three seasons and never complained once. Instead, he made the most of it by being awarded the best bench player in the entire Pac-12 a season ago, despite starting in eight of the 29 games played.

Now, as a full-time starter, it’s time to start relying on Waters more offensively. Only once all year has he attempted a dozen shots in a game. That should be his average moving forward.

San Diego State is going through a tough stretch of games, and Waters’ offensive production will be required to get back on the right track.

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