The San Diego State men’s basketball team doesn’t want to fall into another trap when they host New Mexico in a Mountain West Conference game Saturday night.
The No. 23 Aztecs fought mightily against an all-court press in a 74-65 win over Nevada late Tuesday, allowing the Wolf Pack to close a 21-point deficit with five minutes left with just under a minute remaining in the single digits to reduce .
Other than that, it was a nearly flawless performance for San Diego State (13-3, 4-0 MWC), who have picked up six straight wins.
“I thanked (the players) for the last three minutes after the game,” said Aztec coach Brian Dutcher. “I told them that if they had played like the whole game for 40 minutes then they wouldn’t need coaching. So I thanked them because now I can train again.”
San Diego state guard Matt Bradley, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds for his first double-double of the season, said the Aztecs were initially guilty of being too careless with the press while holding the big lead.
Then they began to doubt themselves.
Bradley said it’s up to the players to prevent that sentiment from taking hold.
“We’re better than that,” he said. “I don’t know if we’re thinking back to the times we had (previous) problems with that. I think we just have to be confident and trust our game and not let these situations overwhelm us.”
The Aztecs have shown that they have many opportunities when they get the ball over half the pitch. Six players score an average of 7.1 to 13.5 points and can score in different places on the floor.
But Dutcher is far from satisfied.
“We have to become better playmakers if we get the ball with the space we have and know what we’re doing and we will,” he said. “I’m not too concerned about that.”
Lamont Butler has been hot in his last two games for San Diego State, averaging 19 points and shooting 7-16 from 3-point range.
New Mexico (15-2, 2-2) won its first 14 games and spent two weeks in the AP Top 25, rising to No. 21 before losing back-to-back conference games to Fresno State and UNLV.
The Lobos got a chance to regroup in a non-conference game against visiting Oral Roberts on Monday, winning 82-75.
“I don’t think we’re playing badly,” said New Mexico coach Richard Pitino. “We could have won Fresno State and UNLV. We were in both games. They made some plays and we didn’t. We had to find a way to win (against Oral Roberts). We’re 15-2 and I really am proud of her.”
New Mexico is led by Jamal Mashburn Jr., son of former 12-year NBA veteran Jamal Mashburn, who is averaging 17.9 points for the Lobos.
Mashburn, a 6-foot-2 shooting guard, has had double-digit scoring chances in every game this season and most recently hit his season-high with 24 points in the win over Oral Roberts.