Instead of simply wanting a win against Utah last night, San Diego State fans wanted a blowout. Halfway through the first period of SDSU’s 85-53 victory against Utah and the team already up by 19, “The Show” started chanting, “Show no mercy!”
And the team listened.
The 12,414 fans at Viejas Arena were the loudest they’ve been all season. Senior point guard D.J. Gay had 15 points, a season-high six assists and tied his career-high with five steals, while freshman guard Jamaal Franklin had his first career double-double and five Aztecs scored at least 10 points as SDSU demolished an overmatched Utes squad.
“If we go out and put the pressure on people, especially out here in this environment, a lot of people get down,” senior center Brian Carlwell said. “A lot of people get down on themselves, they get down on each other, and we want to try to make people quit. So we get out there and we run. We were able to do that today and we had a lot of
success doing it.”
SDSU came out with an intensity that was missing in its last game against TCU. Senior forward Billy White scored the Aztecs’ first five points and SDSU cruised to a 48-21 lead going into halftime.
“We were really, really good in the first half at both ends of the floor,” head coach Steve Fisher said. “We played a game in the fashion that would get us a 27-point lead that we got. I’m very pleased with how we competed.”
In the second half, however, Utah attempted a comeback. Utes’ forward Will Clyburn scored 14 second-half points and Utah used an 11-4 run to whittle the lead down to 20 with 9:37 remaining.
But that’s the closest the Utes would get. A Carlwell dunk fired up the crowd, Franklin hit a trey and the Aztecs knocked Utah out for good. In fact, with seven minutes left in the game, the team shifted its focus from winning the contest to holding the Utes to less than 50 points so the fans could get their free curly fries.
“I remember a timeout with seven minutes left and I said they can’t score seven points in seven minutes – we got to get (the fans) these fries,” Carlwell said. “Because there’s been games where teams have 53 and I go home and some of my boys call me and they’re just mad. I told them we tried our best.”
SDSU was playing without starting sophomore guard Chase Tapley and junior key reserve Tim Shelton, who were out with injuries. But the Aztecs put on such a display that Utah head coach Jim Boylen couldn’t help but be impressed.
“I think they’re a Final Four team,” Boylen said. “If they can solidify their backup point guard, I think they’re a Final Four team.”