Skip to content

San Diego State’s defense makes them a contender in the Mountain West

Dec 2, 2013, 12:31 AM EDT

aztecs AP

With the loss of leading scorers Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley, there was a question of where San Diego State would find its offense in 2013-14. That was a big reason why the Aztecs were picked to finish fourth in the Mountain West preseason poll, with few expecting Steve Fisher’s team to be capable of challenging defending league champion New Mexico.

In light of the Aztecs’ run to the Wooden Legacy title, which culminated with a 67-59 win over No. 25 Marquette on Sunday night, it’s time to adjust the thinking when it comes to what this team is capable of. Two days after defeating No. 20 Creighton Steve Fisher’s club rode its defense to victory, limiting the Golden Eagles to 39.3% shooting from the field and 0-for-7 from beyond the arc in the second half.

Remove Deonte Burton (13 points on 5-for-7 shooting; 15 points for the game) and Marquette shot just 6-for 21 in the game’s final 20 minutes.┬áCombine that with San Diego State shooting 50% from the field, and it’s quite simple to see why the Aztecs are headed home with the title. The offense is still a work in progress, with senior guard Xavier Thames (career-high 29 points) and versatile sophomore wing Winston Shepard III (eight points, all in the second half) being their best playmakers. But with the amount of length and athleticism that San Diego State possesses, they’re more than capable of making up for those issues with a high-level performance on the defensive end of the floor.

And given some of those pieces, San Diego State should be able to work towards being a more efficient offensive team. Tulane transfer Josh Davis hasn’t produced to the level that many expected when he arrived on campus but he’s been a factor on the boards, averaging 8.0 rebounds per game entering Sunday’s action and grabbing 11 in the win over Marquette. There’s also J.J. O’Brien, who’s dealing with an injured right hand, and underclassmen such as Dakarai Allen (eight points) and Matt Shrigley (five points) who will also be called upon throughout the course of the season.

Rome wasn’t build in a day, and the same can be said of the San Diego State offense. But as they work to get better on that end, it’s their defense that makes them a serious contender to win the Mountain West. Prior to Sunday’s action the Aztecs led the Mountain West in both adjusted defensive efficiency (95.1, per kenpom.com) and turnover percentage, forcing opponents into a turnover in nearly 21% of their possessions. And it isn’t as if they’ve compiled these numbers against poor opposition either, as San Diego State’s already played games against Arizona, Creighton and Marquette.

Prior to the start of the season few expected San Diego State to be a serious contender to win the Mountain West, expecting this to be a season of transition. But in one weekend the Aztecs showed that they will be heard from in 2013-14, regardless of how much production they have to replace.

Latest Posts
  1. SMU and Gonzaga close to agreement for home-and-home beginning this season

    Apr 15, 2014, 10:13 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Mustangs and Bulldogs are looking to meet in a home-and-home series.

  2. Royce Woolridge to transfer from Washington State

    Apr 15, 2014, 7:08 PM EDT

    Royce Woolridge Royce Woolridge

    Washington State loses three players, including a starting guard.

  3. NCAA approves unlimited meals and snacks for Division I student-athletes

    Apr 15, 2014, 6:11 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA approved a rule change that will benefit student-athletes.

  4. Branden Dawson to return to Michigan State for senior season

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:43 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Tom Izzo returns a key player from last season’s 29-win team.

  5. Arizona loses Aaron Gordon and Nick Johnson to the 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 5:17 PM EDT

    AP AP

    A pair of starters will leave Arizona following an Elite 8 appearance.

  6. Michigan duo Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III declare for 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 15, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    AP AP

    The Big Ten regular season champion has lost two underclassmen to the NBA draft with the possibility of a third departure as well.

  7. Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee parting ways is good for everyone involved

    Apr 15, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cuonzo Martin and Tennessee was a marriage that needed to end. On Tuesday, it did.

  8. Report: Cuonzo Martin to become the new head coach at California

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:23 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Cal dipped into SEC territory to land their new head coach.

  9. Lawyer involved in Miami’s NCAA case accused of ethics violations

    Apr 15, 2014, 1:09 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The Miami investigation keeps getting more embarrassing for the NCAA.

  10. Kentucky-signee Karl Towns’ Hoop Summit mixtape (VIDEO)

    Apr 15, 2014, 12:19 PM EDT

    2014 McDonald's All American Game Getty Images

    The future Kentucky Wildcat had an impressive showing at the Hoop Summit last weekend.

  11. Report: Domantas Sabonis, Arvydas’ son, leaning towards leaving Spain for Gonzaga

    Apr 15, 2014, 11:32 AM EDT

    images (1)

    Gonzaga is close to landing the son of another legend of the 80s

  12. Syracuse lands third commitment in 2015 with guard Franklin Howard (VIDEO)

    Apr 14, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Syracuse landed another 2015 pledge on Monday evening when guard Franklin Howard committed to the Orange.

  13. Report: Duke’s Jabari Parker will make 2014 NBA Draft decision on Wednesday

    Apr 14, 2014, 10:48 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker will decide on his future this week.

  14. Report: Washington guard Nigel Williams-Goss returning for sophomore season

    Apr 14, 2014, 9:11 PM EDT

    Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon Nigel Williams-Goss, Richard Solomon

    Washington point guard Nigel Williams-Goss will return for his sophomore season.

  15. Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler commits to Vanderbilt

    Apr 14, 2014, 8:28 PM EDT

    Cornell v Notre Dame Cornell v Notre Dame

    Cornell transfer Nolan Cressler has committed to Vanderbilt.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'