Written By: Carson Cook
The San Diego State Aztecs faced off against Long Beach State, although they are both state schools the two programs couldn't be more different. The Aztecs, 5-2 and the Beaches, 2-5 are headed in different directions this year.
San Diego has the expectations of making a March Madness run, while Long Beach, last in their division, are not expected to be competitive in their division. The Aztecs, who haven’t had a 20 point win this season, were expected to beat Long Beach by 20.
Long Beach’s starting guard, Drew Cobb, has an interesting story, to say the least. The Senior guard’s journey to Long Beach has not been easy. Cobb, from Sacramento, went to Sheldon for four years and helped lead the team to a top 10 ranking in the state. Although he played well at Sheldon he ended up at Fresno Community College to play ball.
While at Fresno CC Cobb played in 32 games and held a 4.0 GPA. Cobb would decide to transfer to Long Beach and try to walk on for the team. Later, Cobb earned himself a scholarship to Long Beach through his hard work and determination.
Early in the game Matt Bradley was scoring from wherever on the court, Lamont Butler was clamping up, and Trey Pulliam was directing the traffic for the Aztecs. The two teams went back and forth scoring and not much defense was being played.
In the half-court setting, Long Beach was scoring easily and held a lead with 11:33 left in the first half. At 11;33 a media timeout was called and that is when the Aztecs flipped that switch. From the 11:33 mark until the 2:20 mark the Aztecs went on an 18-4 run. Defensively they were getting after it with steals turning into points on the other end.
In the first 10 minutes Long Beach was able to work for open shots, but after the timeout was called they struggled to even get a shot up. Last Chance U star Joe Hampton had multiple turnovers and almost had as many turnovers as points in the first half.
What made the Aztec run possible was clamping up on the defensive end of the court. Nathan Mensah made the crowd rise in the first half with a big time block in front of his own bench. The difference between this game and the UCR, ASU, or UTA game was free throws and three point shooting. All season SDSU struggled to shoot the ball but couldn't miss against LBSU.
In the second half, the domination by SDSU was highlighted by their first 20+ point win and a few big-time dunks. Multiple times SDSU stole the ball from LBSU and had wide open lanes to the basket. Keshad Johnson caught an alley-oop and Butler had his second crowd-rising dunk through traffic which caused him to be taken to the locker room after a hard fall.
Long Beach lost this game because of their poor shooting from the line and deep. Shooting 0% from deep on eight attempts and shooting around 50% from the line.
The MVP of the game for the Aztecs has to go to Keith Dinwiddie Jr., who scored 12 points off the bench and brought the energy the Aztecs have missed from the guard position all season. Knocking down threes and midrange shots that he had missed all season allowed Bradley and Pulliam to rest more than they had all season.
SDSU earned a much needed statement win and LBSU will head back to Long Beach to work on their three-point shooting and free-throw shooting.