San Diego State outclassed by BYU and Fredette in elite showdown

Posted: 01/27/2011 in college basketball
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So San Diego State lost a college basketball game in Provo against Brigham Young. Not like that hasn’t happened before, huh?

That makes 29 losses in 32 visits to the town of Provo, known in my book as the most boring place I’ve ever visited.

Laramie, Wyoming is like the mecca of entertainment compared to the picturesque town on the Wasatch front.

What was most disappointing about the Aztecs’ 71-58 loss on Wednesday night was the lack of killer instinct.

Brigham Young smelled the kill and went after it. At the same time, San Diego State wilted like an overmatched squad when crunch time arrived.

That wasn’t the type of final eight minutes you expect from a team ranked No. 4 nationally and winners of 20 consecutive games. The effort becomes even more disappointing when you factor in that the contest was billed as the biggest in Mountain West Conference history.

No. 9 BYU (20-1) probably would’ve won the game even if the Aztecs had played like a Top 5 team down the stretch, particularly with Jimmer Fredette lighting up San Diego State for 43 points. (stellar game recap here http://prosportsdaily.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/ncaab-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NCAAB/results/2010-2011/recap804043.html)

This wasn’t Fredette taking advantage of an undermanned team. This was the National Player of the Year candidate scoring at will against a team allowing just 58.8 points per game.

Beyond impressive, which also makes me laugh that there are still some NBA scouts that don’t think Fredette can hang in their league. That’s fine – the same scouts once thought Steve Nash wouldn’t hack it in the NBA either.

Here’s how big Fredette has become nationally. Kevin Durant tweeted this about Fredette after the 43-point performance:

Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!”

You might be familiar with Durant as the NBA’s leading scorer. Oh yeah, he scored 47 points on Wednesday.

Back to the Aztecs. They are 20-1 but the BYU contest was one of the few times the nation has paid attention to one of their contests.

All the college basketball aficionados who turned in were certainly wondering what San Diego State did with those three extra days of preparation.

BYU coach Dave Rose and his staff won the preparation competition in a landslide.

San Diego State’s poor free-throw shooting (60 percent) also picked a poor time to pop up and the Aztecs shot just 35.5 percent from the field. D.J. Gay continued his career-long struggles against BYU by scoring two whole points and missing all seven of his field-goal attempts. Gay had scored 50 points in the past two games.

Kawhi Leonard was said to be ill before the game but the super sophomore was the only Aztec to perform at a high level against BYU. Leonard had 22 points and 15 rebounds in front of the two dozen NBA scouts in attendance.

These two teams will see each other again in late February in what will be another highly anticipated contest. The game in San Diego will be shown on CBS, the first time a Mountain West contest has ever been shown on network television.

I’ve figured all along that San Diego State will lose two or three Mountain West games so it’s certainly not a surprise that the Aztecs lost to BYU in Provo. But what’s disappointing is how badly San Diego State was outplayed down the stretch.

Remember, the Aztecs have never won a single NCAA tournament contest in their history. I covered their 2006 NCAA game against Indiana where a victory was close to being placed in the bag. But San Diego State gagged badly in the final half-minute and the Hoosiers – who were far more battle-tested – gladly accepted the charity and moved on to the second round.

Here the Aztecs were again Wednesday on the big stage and they were again substandard down the stretch. This with a whole different cast of players who wilted against Indiana.

It’s just one loss among a season’s worth of games but it does create a lot of doubt about how far San Diego State can go in this year’s March Madness.

And trust me, there are a lot of people around the nation – perhaps NCAA Selection committee members – thinking the same thing.

Again, there’s no shame in losing to BYU in Provo. What’s disappointing is how San Diego State responded during the game’s most pivotal moments.

The better team won Wednesday’s contest. Period.

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