The Aztecs couldn’t buy a 3-point basket tonight. In fact, James Rahon just clanked one off the iron while you read this sentence. At several points during the mtn. broadcast, I swear I heard the announcer from “NBA Jam” yelling “puts up a brick!”
It was the kind of abysmal shooting display you’d expect from a team playing its fifth game in seven days and whose best shooter is still recovering from a rhythm-sapping injury. In the first half, it looked like SDSU couldn’t even score at 2 a.m. on El Cajon Boulevard with a roll of quarters and half an Arby’s Beef and Cheddar.
And yet …
The Aztecs — a team expected to live and die with the exploits sharpshooters Rahon and Chase Tapley — were absolutely horrible from beyond the arc (that dynamic duo was a combined 2-of-12), yet still managed to beat USC 56-54. They did it thanks to an incredible effort on the offensive boards and a clutch drive and layup by Xavier Thames as the clock wound down.
Coming off a terrible game against Baylor, Jamaal Franklin was excellent, scoring a team high 14 points in only 20 minutes. I’m sure a lot of people are going to clamor for him to start, but I kind of love how Steve Fisher is using him right now. His instant energy off the bench is a potent weapon.
Speaking of potent, I think everyone can officially stop bitching about the free throw shooting. When Rahon misses your team’s only foul shot in 14 attempts, you’re having a pretty good night.
This was one of those games in a rebuilding season where you could see what the finished product might eventually look like — and it was good.
Now, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. The Trojans are also rebuilding and, while they play good defense, they aren’t a particularly good team. In fact, they’re probably one of the weaker foes in the current brutal stretch of games. Saturday’s game against Snoop Dogg State should be quite a bit tougher.
But this win still felt really good. And strangely, it’s because of what the Aztecs didn’t do well.