Shepard scores 20 to lead SDSU to 56-42 win against Lobos
SAN DIEGO (AP) Coach Steve Fisher unloaded on his San Diego State Aztecs at halftime and then again after a dreadful loss at Fresno State on Saturday night.
And then he moved on.
The Aztecs did the same. With Winston Shepard scoring 16 of his season-high 20 points in the second half, the Aztecs beat New Mexico 56-42 Tuesday night in a matchup of the two teams that have dominated the Mountain West Conference the last five seasons.
''We didn't get down on ourselves like everybody else,'' said Shepard, who also had nine rebounds. ''A lot of people made it seem like the end of the world. It was a tough loss. We watched the film, we met as a group and we move on.''
Angelo Chol added 10 points for the Aztecs (12-4, 2-1 MWC).
SDSU has won its last 14 games following a loss.
In the loss at Fresno, SDSU fell behind 19-3. It scored 17 straight points in the second half, but never had the lead the game.
''I gave them all the venom in a negative way I could at halftime and after Fresno,'' Fisher said. ''When we met here Sunday, I was nothing but positive on what I expected us to do.
''I knew we would come out and compete,'' Fisher added. ''I'm proud of the energy they brought from the opening tip. We struggled to make shots but we were aggressive with everything we did.''
Obij Aget had a team-high seven points for New Mexico (10-5, 2-1), which came in tied atop the conference standings with Wyoming and Utah State.
Shepard had only four points in the first half, when SDSU was cold offensively but sharp defensively. He scored the Aztecs' first six points of the second half and had 10 by the time he made a monster slam dunk for a 37-26 lead with 12:16 to go.
Shepard had the chance to score more but he missed four free throws in the second half, including the opportunity to convert two three-point plays.
''I just had to pick my energy up,'' Shepard said. ''Coach talked about playing with supreme confidence, talked about giving a championship effort, two things that maybe I haven't been so good at all season.''
New Mexico closed to six points on two free throws by Arthur Edwards before a six-point sequence gave the Aztecs a 46-34 lead with 8:29 to go. Matt Shrigley made a 3-pointer and then stole the ball and tipped it to Dakarai Allen, who passed to Trey Kell for a layup. Kell was fouled and converted the three-point play.
Shepard made a layup and two free throws to give the Aztecs a 50-35 lead with 7:26 to go.
''They've always guarded well,'' New Mexico coach Craig Neal said. ''They really get in the passing lanes and they can play on top of you. If you don't have a low-post scoring threat or something that you can negate their pressure, then you're going to struggle.''
New Mexico has won two outright regular-season titles and shared one, while SDSU has won one outright and shared two. New Mexico has won the last three conference tournament titles while SDSU won two straight before that.
San Diego State led 22-18 at halftime following a defensive struggle.
The Aztecs led 19-10 with 3:46 left after an inside shot by Chol before New Mexico closed within four on a layup and a 3-pointer by Greenwood.
After SDSU missed its first 11 shots from behind the arc, Aqeel Quinn made a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left before Devon Williams made a 3-pointer for New Mexico with 12 seconds left to again bring the Lobos within four.
New Mexico made 4 of 9 3-pointers in the first half and only two shots inside of the arc.
New Mexico: The Lobos played at SDSU for first time since letting the Aztecs rally from a 16-point deficit on March 8 to claim the outright MWC regular-season title. ... The Lobos were playing their 12th game since leading scorer Cullen Neal suffered a season-ending ankle injury.
San Diego State: After starting the first 15 games, freshman guard Trey Kell made way for Matt Shrigley, who made his first start of the season. ... Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko and new outfielder Wil Myers had courtside seats.
Neal said five Lobos players had never experienced the raucous atmosphere at Viejas Arena or the Aztecs' intensity. ''You can talk about it all you want, but until they go through it, you don't understand it,'' the coach said.
New Mexico: at Utah State on Saturday.
San Diego State: visits Wyoming on Jan. 14.