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San Diego State blown out at home by Ivy League's Brown

SDRay

Let's go Fleet! #GoBoats #AnchorDown
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Embarrassing. At least USD came up big and beat Grand Canyon

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.co...l-brown-ivy-league-viejas-20181229-story.html

If Viejas Arena was a nuclear reactor, they would be madly evacuating the surrounding area while guys in white hazmat suits walked around with Geiger counters.

This is what a full-blown meltdown looks like.

San Diego State is only two decades removed from being one of the worst men’s basketball programs in Division I — it got beat by 44 here against TCU in 1998 — so saying this was the most embarrassing home loss in school history is probably hyperbolic.

But you don’t have venture to out on a limb too far to call it the most (pick your adjective) humiliating, disconcerting, mortifying L since Steve Fisher and Brian Dutcher’s first season on the Mesa in 1999-2000, when the Aztecs went 5-23 with the previous staff’s woebegone roster.

Brown?

At home?

By 21?

A team picked to finish fifth in a league without athletic scholarships led the Aztecs by (yes) 30 in the first half and won 82-61 on Saturday before 10,821 fans who were too utterly shocked to do anything but sit there, just like Dutcher did as the Bears went on a 26-0 run while calling only one timeout.

“I don’t have a team of excuse-makers,” Dutcher said. “I had a couple guys in (the locker room) with tears in their eyes. I don’t want them to feel that bad, but it’s always good as a coach to know you’ve got kids who care, that they care about winning and losing and how they play and how the team plays. I was proud of that.

“If they care that much, they’ll get better.”

Added sophomore Matt Mitchell: “We’re not going to let it define us. We will bounce back. We will be better.”

There had been some wobbles this season — 26- and 30-point losses in Maui, a home loss against a better USD team, a road loss against a bad Cal team — but there was little indication the wheels were about to completely fly off against a team that traveled 2,561 miles and crossed four time zones. The most recent game, on Dec. 22, was a convincing 90-81 win against rival BYU in which they led by 20 early, and that was followed by what Dutcher called three good days of practice.

And then …

A team that entered the day ranked 277th in Div. I in 3-point accuracy went 9 of 14 in the first half beyond the arc and 15 of 28 overall — some of them contested, many of them wide-open, set-your-feet, check-the-wind shots with no defender in the same area code. Sophomore guard Desmond Cambridge made seven alone.

The Aztecs (7-5) trailed by 12 early but closed to 24-20 and forced Brown to call timeout with 8:26 left in the half to quell the Viejas crowd after freshman Aguek Arop had it roaring with a put-back and a 3.

And then …

The Bears (9-4) made 3s on back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back possessions, and the Aztecs didn’t score again until an Arop dunk with 28 seconds left.

By then, it was … gulp … 50-20 and the first boos echoed through an arena that hasn’t heard them in, what, 10 years, 15 years? During a quiet moment, a fan screamed: “FIND YOUR HEART!”

The Aztecs retreated to the locker room, listened to a lecture about character and then didn’t hit the rim on their first two possessions of the second half. Brown drained a couple more 3s, and the margin was 34.

Or put it this way: The Bears could have gone scoreless over the final 15½ minutes … and still won.

“We played outstanding,” Brown coach Mike Martin said. “Obviously, defensively we were terrific for most of the game. Offensively, that first half we executed. We got good looks. They went in even when we didn’t get good looks … I know they didn’t play their best, and I like to think we had a little bit to do with it.”

With 5:34 to go and down 23, Dutcher surrendered and cleared his bench, putting in four freshmen and 5-foot-9 senior walk-on Michael Sohikish.

From there, the only real drama was whether the Aztecs could break their streak of allowing Div. I opponents to shoot 50 percent or better in a half. It was at five straight halves, and Brown made it six by shooting an absolutely preposterous 71.4 percent (20-28).

The Bears hovered just below 50 percent for most of the second half, and dipped to 36.7 percent when their reserves couldn’t keep the torrid pace of the regulars.

That, and the second-half performance by Jalen McDaniels, amounted to the closest thing to a silver lining on an otherwise dark, dark day in the annals of SDSU basketball. McDaniels followed a six-point game against BYU with no baskets (0 of 5) and two free throws in the first half against the Ivy Leaguers, then had 17 points in the second.

But as much as Dutcher insisted “some of our youth showed itself tonight,” the statistics showed two freshmen off the bench (Arop with 11, Nathan Mensah with nine) outscored his starting senior backcourt 20-4. Leading scorer Devin Watson had four — 12 below his average — after making the first basket of the game and missing his next six shots. Jeremy Hemsley had no points for the first time in his career as a starter.

Cambridge led Brown with 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Tamenang Choh had 16 and Obi Okolie had 13. Even La Costa Canyon High alum Travis Fuller, who had played in only six of the Bears’ previous 12 games and was averaging 3.5 minutes, got 11 minutes and scored a first-half basket during the 26-0 run.

The Aztecs conclude the nonconference schedule with a noon tip on New Year’s Day against CSUN (aka Cal State Northridge). They open the Mountain West four days later at Boise State.

“Having character is always easier when things are going good and we’re winning,” Dutcher said. “Our character is going to be what it is based on what happened today. I told them, ‘We have to bow our back and show them we’re a way better team than the way we played today.’ ”

Notable
The loss snapped a 14-game home win streak against teams from the Eastern time zone. It was only the fourth loss in 29 all-time games against Eastern time zone teams at Viejas Arena … The Aztecs are now 0-3 this season when trying for a three-game win streak … Adam Seiko was the only Aztec not to play. His flight back from Dallas following the Christmas break was cancelled due to weather and he missed all three days of practice since …

Arop had his most impressive performance and showed why the coaches are so high on him: 11 points (4 of 4 on free throws), five rebounds, one steal, one turnover in 14 minutes … The Aztecs shot 35.3 percent after a miserable 8 of 28 (28.6 percent) in the first half. They entered the game seventh nationally in 3-point accuracy at 41.3 percent and went 5 of 17 (29.4 percent) … After 18, 28 and 20 assists in their last three games, the Aztecs had 12 … Brown scheduled the game so Fuller could play in his hometown.
 

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