Here’s an interesting stat for you — San Diego State is headed to the Sweet 16, as a two seed nonetheless, despite having played just one team from the BCS conferences.
The Aztecs went to Berkeley and beat Cal by 20 points back in December.* After outlasting Temple 71-64 in double overtime, SDSU is guaranteed to face their second BCS conference school as they will take on UConn next weekend.
(That’s not to say they didn’t play some good teams — Gonzaga, BYU and UNLV thrice each — I just thought it odd.)
There are no surprises with the Aztecs.
The frontcourt three some of Kawhi Leonard, Malcolm Thomas, and Billy White combined for 45 points, 31 boards (10 offensive), seven assists, five steals, and five blocks. Chase Tapley knocked down four threes. DJ Gay ran the team, finishing with five assists and just one turnover, although he shot 3-13.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns for this team.
The Aztecs did not execute well down the stretch of this game. At least three times down the stretch, SDSU threw away an outlet pass after corralling a rebound, and on two other occasions Temple came within inches of making a steal. San Diego State also had the ball at the end of regulation and the end of the first overtime, and on both occasions failed to score.
At the end of regulation, Tapley missed a tough leaner. When Leonard grabbed the rebound, he came down with the ball and never got another shot off when he could have tried to tip the ball in for a game winner. At the end of the overtime, Steve Fisher isolated Thomas in the post, who was forced into a tough, 12 foot fadeaway.
Another worrisome sign for the Aztecs?
UConn is a very similar team to the BYU team that had Brandon Davies. Their style of play is a bit different — UConn does not push the ball as much and is much better defensively. But Kemba Walker, like Jimmer Fredette, is a dynamic scorer at the point. Alex Oriakhi, like Davies, is a rebounder and post defender that can score around the rim. Guys like Shabazz Napier, Jeremy Lamb, and Roscoe Smith play the role of Jackson Emery and Charles Abouo.
SDSU lost to that BYU by 13 and 15 points.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.