By Jay Paris
SAN DIEGO — Time to rebound and what better team to do it than San Diego State?
There’s much that the Aztecs don’t do, but crashing the boards isn’t where they usually crash and burns.
The Aztecs head to New Mexico tonight, hoping not to start March with a snore.
If wanting to play when this month turns mad, one is loco to think they can do it without knocking off the Lobos.
“You can’t let a team beat you twice,” coach Steve Fisher is fond of saying.
In this case, we point to Saturday’s killer loss to Boise State on Saturday. SDSU fell short in so many areas — missing seven straight free throws down the stretch — that they left the court as blue as the Broncos’ football field.
But that’s in the past, and yep, we spot Fisher’s fingers being crosses that it’s just that.
SDSU (21-8, 14-2) always was working without a net in a year the Mountain West has few summit climbers. The conference is down, which means when taking one on the chin, it’s hard to climb from the mat.
The Aztecs have won a share of the conference title for the third straight time. But this year, it doesn’t come with so much confetti but rather consternation.
Saturday’s 66-63 toe-stub against Boise State broke numerous streaks and just maybe the Aztecs’ will. Their school-record run of six straight trips to the NCAA Tournament is in jeopardy, which makes the trip to the Pit so critical.
What we know is the Lobos will be ready on Senior Night. They’re still ticked about the clock and an in-bounds call in last month’s visit to Viejas Arena, a contest SDSU won in overtime.
In real time, New Mexico (16-13, 9-7) has lost five of its past seven and three straight. But this MW outpost is notorious for being a tough place to play at, in front of a fan base in which The Show, if given truth serum, would tip its hat to.
Wild and crazy, that’s what tonight will be.
Kind of sounds like SDSU’s season, no?
It’s a campaign that reaches Super Tuesday which featured a non-conference that was a non-starter. A season which saw the Aztecs sprint through conference play to another title. But it’s a year that could soon be ending unless SDSU gets hot, stays hot and warms the hearts of those on the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
With a juicy road win tonight, just make SDSU finds it’s mojo again, something it lost when squandering a nine-point lead with a minute remaining against the Broncos. A victory allows the Aztecs to exhale, tune up against UNLV to finish the regular season and then head to Las Vegas for the MW Tournament like a guy with a map to the loose slots.
Does a loss tonight end the Aztecs shot at the Big Dance?
But basketball, like getting your groove on, is about being in a good rhythm. What better way to forget Saturday’s waltz with two left feet than to stomp the Lobos?
“Don’t let a team beat you twice,” Fisher repeats, and we get it.
By beating the Lobos again, maybe the NCAA Tournament suits think twice about the Aztecs. If nothing else, it’ll provide SDSU a final push as it stretches for the tape.
+ Contact Jay Paris at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.