Team Play, Spencer's Block Record, 20 Wins

It's only been two games but the Aztecs have shied away from playing one-on-one basketball to playing as a team...

It's only been two games but the Aztecs have shied away from playing one-on-one basketball to playing as a team.

The prove is in the numbers. San Diego State had season-high 22 assists on 32 made baskets on Saturday evening in the win against Nevada.

"I would say we are (playing more team basketball)," SDSU guard Chase Tapley explained. "Tonight, I don't know the exact numbers, but we had assists on all of our shots. I think Jamaal had about five and J.J. had seven. Sharing the ball is going to be key down the road for us to be successful."

Efficient play of star forward Jamaal Franklin has been one of the main components to the Aztecs new team play. The Mountain West Conference Player of the Year candidate had 23 points on 8–of-12 shooting, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and 1 turnover.

"Everyone likes to talk about Jamaal not shooting it well, so I would appreciate the fact that when he has back-to-back games if you look at his stat line and say that's pretty impressive," Fisher said.

The most important stat of it all: Two straight wins.

"Our practices have been pretty good mentally," SDSU head coach Steve Fisher explained. "They have been led by Chase (Tapley) and Jamaal in terms of really utilizing our first 20 minutes of practice every day. They've really worked at skill building and spot shooting. We've shot the ball really well in practice so I'm not shocked. I'm happy that we got some pretty impressive numbers field goal wise the last two games but we've practiced that way. Jamaal and Chase have been on the front burner of that."

In the past two games San Diego State has averaged 83.5 points on 62.6% shooting from the field, 47% from three-point range with 39 total assists.

"I talked before we had our morning walk through," Fisher said in detail. "We didn't really shoot around. I talked about the mental part of the game. I said the absolutes that have to be there have been there almost all the time. That's good effort and energy.

"We've had that but I said, `We must do a better job from the neck up.' I think that's been a big part of why we've been a little more consistent and playing better. I think we've played smarter. I think we haven't let frustration creep in as much. When you make baskets, sometimes that helps.

Records Shattered

Freshman Skylar Spencer had four blocks on Saturday to give him a grand total of 47 on the season.

The 6-foot-9 center, out of Price High School in Los Angeles (Calif.), broke the Mountain West Conference freshmen block record (44) set by Utah's Andrew Bogut (2003-04) and Colorado State's Micheal Morris (02-03).

"Skylar (Spencer) can block shots," Fisher said. "That, right now, is what he's known for. I didn't realize that he had as many as he did until people started talking about it. He's got a knack. Some of it's the long arms and the 6'9" (height), but he's got a feel for where to be.

"He's got great timing. I think being left-handed gives him an advantage as a shot blocker. We need to keep him going. (UNLV's Khem) Burch is the best shot blocker in the league and Skylar is probably a close second."

Not only did Spencer shatter the Mountain West record but also the San Diego State freshmen record (45) by Leonard Allen.

"I'm just proud of him," Tapley said. "He can be a real game-changer the way he blocks shots. The sky is the limit for him if he keeps working hard. He's going to be one of the greats to leave this program if he stays focused and stays humble."

20/20

San Diego State recorded its 20th victory after defeating Nevada 88-75. It's the eighth consecutive year that Steve Fisher has won 20+ games.

"It's a testament of what Coach Fisher has meant to this program, what he's done with his coaching staff and the players he's brought in," Tapley said. "We're always going to keep building on what we've been doing. Twenty wins in the last eight seasons, lets finish this one off and hopefully we'll get another 20 wins next season and keep this tradition going."

The Aztecs need five more wins to have five straight seasons of 25+ victories.

"We want to win every game we play," Fisher added. "Every one of these games is a resume builder for post season play too."

Finishing Notes

-JJ O'Brien finished with 14 points, 6 rebounds and career-high 7 assists on Saturday.

-The Aztecs improved to 8-5 in Mountain West play and guaranteed their eighth-straight .500 or better conference record. Prior to Steve Fisher's arrival, San Diego State went 14 seasons without posting a single .500 or better conference record.

-Freshman Winston Shepard had another strong outing as he had 14 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists.

"Winston follows the lead of some of those older guys," Fisher on Shepard's development and consistency. "I think his practices have been more steady and his concentration has been better. I think that has carried over into his game performance. He's made some perimeter shots where people have hoped he would shoot it. He's made the 12-footer and the 15-footer and has looked good doing it. Winston's is going to be a really good player. He's had some moments where he's looked like a young guy but he's slowly getting the peaks and valleys out of his game and becoming more consistent."

Aztec Report Top Stories