The Aztecs returned home after a big loss at Fresno State. New Mexico has been riding high for a while and rolling over their first few Mountain West games. Either of these teams could be the Mountain West winner and SDSU has put themselves in good shape.
The game started out as Winston Shepard set the tone early by getting to the free throw line. He played very physical and he set the physicality for his teammates. Angelo Chol came off the bench as a strong, physical post scorer.
The Aztecs held the lead the entire game. At one point in the 1st half, they led by 10 then pushed it up to 15 in the 2nd half. The final score was 56-42 and the Aztecs dominated the Lobos.
Head Coach Steve Fisher talked about Winston Shepard’s performance, “When he doesn’t get anxious to try to do things too fast or make things happen, he makes plays and does what he did tonight. He was aggressive going to the glass. He got some really big offensive rebounds and he played well for us”
Shepard looked like the dominant player we expect putting up 20 points and 9 rebounds with Angelo Chol coming off the bench for 10 points in the post. Shepard is establishing himself as the superstar of the Aztecs team and hopefully he can be the go to guy in the closing minutes. The Aztecs have been seeking that role and Shepard may be emerging as that guy.
Shepard talked about stepping up in the 2nd half, “”I had to pick my energy up. Coach talked about playing with supreme confidence and giving a championship effort, two things that I maybe haven’t been so good at all season. I just wanted to pick my energy and my effort up.”
Shepard can be the catalyst going down the stretch. He can run the point, he can line up at forward, and can grab a few rebounds. His play will also open up shots for guys in the clutch like Aqeel Quinn and Dwayne Polee II.
Angelo Chol talked about stepping up this game, “”I just told myself I had to go out there and make something happen to help the team because I feel like I haven’t been doing anything lately, so I just was telling myself, `Go out there and do something.’ If you’re going to be out on the floor you have to make something happen.”
The Aztecs have an important week off because they will have a tough road game ahead. Their next game will be at Wyoming on January 14. They have been night and day on the road so it will be fascinating to see the next game. The team needs to find their identity on the road and hopefully the momentum continues.