SAN DIEGO STATE 67, WYOMING 58
Ankle sprains not an issue
After San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher deemed Garrett Green "doubtful" for Wednesday's game against Wyoming, and just four days after Jamaal Franklin missed the game against Air Force, all eyes were trained on the duo's troublesome injured ankles.
As it turned out, the ankle sprains weren't a problem in SDSU's 67-58 overtime win.
Green had his best game as an Aztec, matching his season-high of 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting, had several rim-rattling dunks that fired up the Viejas Arena crowd, pulled down crucial rebounds and even hit two big free throws late in regulation.
"I think if we are honest, you heard whispers saying he wasn't tough enough and can't deal with injury and pain," Fisher said. "Tom Abdenour, our trainer, didn't think he would play. Garrett came out on Tuesday and felt sore, but said that he was going to give it a go, and obviously he was very, very good."
Despite struggling in regulation, Franklin exploded in overtime and finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
"(My) ankle bothered me the first few minutes," Franklin said. "It didn't bother me physically, it bothered me mentally. But after that, it didn't bother me. If it breaks, it breaks. If it got twisted again, it'll get twisted because we just got the win."
Owning the paint
While SDSU's guards have gotten most of the hype this season, it was the effort from the forwards down low that gave the Aztecs the victory.
SDSU's three big men (Green, Tim Shelton and DeShawn Stephens) combined for 32 points, pulled down 17 rebounds and held Wyoming to only three offensive boards. The Aztecs as a whole out-rebounded the Cowboys 33-23 and outscored them 36-4 in the paint.
After going 1-for-8 from the field against Air Force, fans were looking for the junior shooting guard to have a bounce-back game.
That didn't happen, as Rahon went 1-for-4 and scored only two points on Wednesday night. His outside shot just wasn't falling and his body language suggested he was lacking confidence in his game.
Fisher subbed out Rahon at the start of the overtime period and he didn't check back in until there were only 33 seconds left and the win was already well in hand.
SDSU not running
At the weekly press conference Tuesday afternoon, Fisher told the media it was imperative that the Aztecs get back to their fun, free-flowing offense and push the ball up the court to get quick and easy fastbreak points.
But against Wyoming, SDSU did just the opposite.
The Aztecs scored only two fastbreak points all game, and instead of coming out running, they fed it to their forwards down low in the half-court set for the majority of the game.
With 36 points in the paint, it worked on Wednesday. But can the big men continue to make up for the cold outside shooting and the lack of fastbreak points? Only time will tell, but with this season's team built around its backcourt, it has to be concerning for fans to see SDSU unable to get out and run.
On Wednesday, the Aztecs shot 3-for-10 from downtown. It's even worse if you look at the last three games, where they have gone 9-41 (21.9 percent) from three.
You can blame it on nagging injuries. You can claim that the guards are worn out after 27 games, or that Fisher's seven man rotation this season has the team's legs feeling like jelly, unable to get the lift on those long jump shots.
You can blame it on whatever you want, but Fisher says the ice cold outside shooting is attributed to something completely unrelated to the high amount of minutes or the late-season wall.
"I don't think fatigue was a factor," Fisher said. "We made a flurry of shots down the stretch after we had been playing for 40-44 minutes, so no I don't (think fatigue was a factor). (Coach Dutcher) made the comment at halftime that you have to play with some swagger, and he was right, you have to expect to be successful on the offensive end. We were a little tentative, but I am hoping that this win will be a big plus for us."
Wyoming probably wants that back
With the score tied at 55 and two seconds left in regulation, Wyoming called a 30-second timeout.
With possession of the ball in the closing seconds and a chance to beat a ranked team on the road and stop a three-game losing streak, the Cowboys inbounded the ball and found Luke Martinez open underneath the basket.
It looked like Martinez may have tried to go up for a shot before he completely caught the pass, and he awkwardly threw the ball out of bounds as the buzzer sounded for what looked to be the ball game.
The referees put 0.7 seconds back on the clock, however, and Larry Nance Jr. couldn't get a shot off in time.
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