SDSU hopes its shot at redemption against UW is on target

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jay-paris
By Jay Paris

Washington is here and San Diego State longs to again be the apple of coach Steve Fisher’s eye.

The Huskies and Aztecs play in Monday’s NIT matchup, with Fisher recalling how his bunch performed the previous time they squared off.

SDSU was rotten to the core.

“If we scored 36 points like we did last year, we have no chance of winning,” he said.

The Aztecs turned in a stinker that day on the banks of Lake Washington. That 49-36 loss stings almost as much as the snub from the NCAA Tournament bouncer working the entrance.

Yep, the Aztecs (26-9) are still steamed about wearing out couch springs this week instead of jumping into the fray of March Madness. 

But it was the steam shooting from Fisher’s ears following the game at Puget Sound that few can forget. Fisher channeled Mount St. Helens after that disaster, with the Aztecs shooting 100 percent when aiming for their feet, but only 20 percent when the basket was their target.

Fisher’s post-game froth included insisting the players watch the video of it just after cutting the tape from their ankles.

Popcorn wasn’t served during the viewing although we confirmed crow was available.

“I forgot that we had only scored (36) points up there,” said Skylar Spencer said. “So hopefully that doesn’t happen again.”

When you’re the school’s all-time leading shot-blocker, it’s easy for Spencer to swat away that memory. But when reminded of the debacle, he’s counting on better results.

“It was a real bad game for us,” he said. “Hopefully we can make up for it on Monday.”

This Monday isn’t a downer, if riding the NIT train. While the Aztecs wish they were playing in Orange County on Thursday in the NCAA West Region, they’ve embraced this tournament of a different color.

If winning five games in the NIT and getting to hoist shots at the Madison Square Garden is the prize, that’s still pretty cool.

But among the obstacles on Monday isn’t if the low-scoring Aztecs revert to the gang that can’t shoot straight. Fisher is a straight-shooter and he’s not crossings his fingers when talking about the visiting Huskies’ high-octane attack.

Washington (19-14) scored 107 points in beating Long Beach State by five in its opening NIT game. That wasn’t a fluke as the Huskies average 84 points a game, sixth-best in the nation.

“They are a team led by Andrew Andrews and they are really, really good,” Fisher said.

The U-Dub guy with similar names was the Pac-12’s leading scorer and is averaging 26 points in his last four contests.

He’s backed by guard Dejounte Murray and forward Marquese Chriss, two freshmen not afraid to fire away.

What’s working in the Aztecs’ favor is the Washington being away from its campus. Its road show hasn’t been very nifty, with the Huskies losing seven of their last 11 and five straight.

Combine that with how SDSU usually takes care of business on Montezuma Mesa, and it’s just another cool contrast on what figures to be a stellar NIT pairing.

Yes, there is such a thing.

It doesn’t compensate for not playing with the teams SDSU thinks it should be dancing with.

But as long as the Aztecs are still in uniform, why not make the best of it?

“We just have a goal in mind to win every game we play, whether that is the NCAA Tournament of the NIT,” said guard Trey Kell, who missed all seven of his shots in last year’s loss at Washington. “We are glad to still be playing. Our goal is to make it to New York and playing inside Madison Square Garden.”

If so, this NIT experience will have to continue to grow on the Aztecs. 

While the weed which was the recent face-plant at Washington was yanked, it wasn’t all a bed of roses for the Huskies.

“If we hold them to 49 like we did last year,” Fisher said. “We have a very good chance of winning.” 

+ Contact Jay Paris at jparis@bcaradio.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jparis_sports.

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