San Diego State upsets Xavier, 79-74
Aztecs come back from 19 to win.
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The Aztecs earned a decent resume win.
In the first head-to-head in the history of these programs, the San Diego State Aztecs snatched a victory against Big East’s Xavier, 79-74.
Played at 9:30 am local time, the Xavier Musketeers jumped to an early 13-6 lead at the first media timeout. The Musketeers, fresh off an overtime loss against 8th-ranked Auburn Tigers, looked to be in control while the Aztecs looked dazed from their 26-point loss against No. 1 ranked Duke.
The Aztecs were down as many as 19 points in the first half but climbed back up to come within 3 at the half.
Both teams looked tired, but Xavier’s overtime game against Auburn took more toll on their legs than the Aztecs’ blowout loss to Zion Williamson and company.
Bottom line, San Diego State duo Jalen McDaniels and Devin Watson put The Show on their back. McDaniels was 64% from the field, hit on 3 of 5 from downtown— or the beach for this matter— and ended the game with 26 points. Watson hit 35.7% from the field, hit four 3-pointers, and ended the game with 21 points.
As a team, the Aztecs shot 51% from the field. In the opening round of the Maui Invitational, San Diego State shot 35.8%. The Aztecs found a rhythm and a better matchup to exploit.
The Aztecs were able to dictate tempo, making Xavier adhere to their lockdown defense. Xavier shot 45.5% from beyond the arc at the half, but when the Aztecs defense woke up in the second half Xavier shot 21%. Despite tired Musketeer legs, credit the Aztecs to finding strengths in being able to switch from zone to man defense.
In a game of runs, San Diego State produced more effective runs than Xavier. A first-half 19-3 run that got the Aztecs within three at the half and a second half 16-2 run that put the Aztecs ahead.
This morning Aztec shooters found their inner Steph Curry. The team shot 40.7% from beyond the arc with McDaniels and Watson leading the charge, and Jordan Schakel shooting 3 of 11.
San Diego State overcame its largest deficit in the Brian Dutcher-era against the Xavier Musketeers. The thrashing from Duke had to inspire these guys to come together and crawl back into it. San Diego State is playing tough and a victory against Xavier, a team projected to finish third in the Big East with a bid to the NCAA Tournament in March, is a good omen for the Aztecs.
San Diego State plays against the winner of Illinois vs. Iowa State tomorrow afternoon.