San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher and players Xavier Thames, James Rahon, Chase Tapley and…
SDSU Gets Defensive in Final Stretch
The score: 48-48 with 10:41 left in the game.
Aztecs would hold the Sooners to just seven points the rest of the way.
"Our second half defense was superior to our first half, and that's how we won," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. "We found a way to win."
"We didn't give them easy baskets, we didn't give them second-chance opportunities, and we took advantage of our opportunities."
One of the main reasons was SDSU's ability to limit the touches for Oklahoma stud senior Romero Osby.
"His performance was real good," SDSU point guard Xavier Thames said of Osby. "He's a great player, going to be a great player for a long time. We just tried to make it tough on him, me digging down trying to double-team him. He's a great player and he knows how to score, we just had to make it tough on him."
Osby finished with 22 points but only scored three points in the last 11:47 of play and scoreless in the final 6:54.
"San Diego State does a good job defensively, and they forced some shots, and they deserve some credit even though we had some looks that didn't go down," Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger said. "It was a combination of the two, us not making shots. Credit the defense for doing a good job."
While they were dominant defensively, San Diego State had it going offensively too.
The team scored 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting over the 10:41 stretch.
Five of the six buckets came off assists and the lone non-assist came off an offensive rebound tip-in.
"I thought they were able to get in the paint and penetrate and make some plays off the dribble and get some second shots and create a little bit of a separation that they played with for the rest of the ballgame," Kruger added. "But I thought at a critical time in the ballgame they were a little quicker to loose balls, a little tougher driving and kicking and making plays that they finished at the rim."
The result: San Diego State methodically defeated Oklahoma 70-55, as the Aztecs will face No. 15 Florida Gulf Coast at 4:10 p.m. PST on Sunday.
Big Players Step Up in Big Games
Something that hasn't gone hand in hand with SDSU star forward Jamaal Franklin this season has been efficiency.
That's the player efficiency rating for Franklin against Oklahoma.
The junior, who more than likely helped his NBA draft stock if he chooses to enter after the NCAA tournament, had 21 points on 6-of-13 shooting including 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
"I thought Franklin did a good job of getting into the paint and creating opportunities for others as well as scoring himself," Kruger said of Franklin. "He's just a terrific all-around player and a tough match-up. I thought his ability to get in and create good things for his teammates was a big key in the game."
Franklin's energy and passion was contagious on Friday night as his teammates fed off of him.
He played a total of 37 minutes as the Aztecs were (+24) with him in the game and (-9) in the three minutes he was on the sidelines.
"Jamaal does what every coach expects but doesn't always get," Fisher said. "He gives you maximum effort every second he's out there, and it's not 100 percent what you want, but you're not going to ever fault him for effort.
"And I think that permeates through the whole team. He is a guy that when you say you can't do this, he works that much harder to prove that he can. And I think that that's the will that he brings. Has allowed him to grow but our team to grow, too."
While Franklin had himself an impressive evening, he almost had a very embarrassing moment during a dunk attempt late in the ball game.
"Thankful that dunk did go on," Franklin said. "Probably won't be on top 10 again. Well, I still might."
No one has dealt with the cold shooting days more this season than James Rahon.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound shooting guard is 8-of-33 (24.2%) from the field in the past five games and since his shoulder injury at UNLV.
That all changed when the fifth-year senior stepped on the Wells Fargo Center floor on Friday night.
Rahon finished with 17 points, tying his season-high, on 6-of-11 shooting in the victory.
"Well, it is definitely a bigger stage, so I think we all raised our level of play a little bit," Rahon said. "But these guys next to me were finding me when I was making shots, and I think that was the key tonight. Got to credit them for finding me when I was open."
- San Diego State won its third-ever Division I NCAA tournament game and improves to 3-8 in nine appearances.
- Aztecs have won 92 consecutive games when leading with five minutes to play.
-Steve Fisher improves to 14-5 vs. Lon Kruger as the head coach of San Diego State. Overall, Fisher is 15-6 vs. Kruger.
-Forward Deshawn Stephens had 7 points and a career-high 11 rebounds in the win.
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