Mustangs Offended

Knock knock. Who's there? Aggie. Aggie who? AGGIE OFFENSE!

Aggies stumbled back home from a difficult, troubling loss in CA to Pacific, hoping to put a bad game behind them. Thanks to a change in philosophy that produced Offense-Only practices and the delegation of motivation to the team's seniors, the Aggies posted one of their most impressive wins of the year against the Mustangs of Cal Poly.

When I browsed the roster for Cal Poly earlier in the day, I was a little surprised at how much size they had. When their team took the court it was clear that, in this instance at least, the media guide hadn't lied. They put real size on the floor at almost every position, most of them 2 men deep. Why a team that big can't rebound better than they do is beyond me, but we'll get to that later.

The game opened up with all the energy (and defense) of a good game of "horse." Poly scored first, to which we answered with a 3 from Ross... and so it went. Little did the Mustangs know that the 2-0 lead to start the game would be their only, and a 10-10 tie was the end of that too. Cal Poly and USU traded buckets for nearly the entire first half, Cal Poly staying just a score or two behind.

The lead stretched to 7, but was just 5 as the teams went in at the break, 37-32. It could have been more, as Brown stole the inbounds pass, secured the ball and then rushed a three, not realizing that he had plenty of time to get a better shot. The long rebound came to a hustling Nate Harris who almost got his off-balance shot to fall as time expired.

Defense? The first half only saw it in spurts. Both teams shot well with Cal Poly getting their share inside while the Aggies showed some prowess from the three point line. Ross drilled 3 straight threes to open the game and was fouled on his 4th attempt. Had the Aggies come out shooting cold, we could have been down 10 easily at half. That wasn't the case. Aggies shot 55% for the game while Cal Poly shot 50%. The real difference was from outside, where the Aggies shot a respectable 38% (5-13) and had important makes early. Cal Poly shot a measly 27% on 6-22 shooting, two of those makes coming in garbage time as the game expired.

The trend that continues to unfold is our ability to rebound the ball. We outrebounded Cal Poly 38-20, again almost doubling up the opponents production on the boards. We are taking care of the ball better with just 13 turnovers while getting 22 assists! 22 ASSISTS! Our offense came to play tonight. Ball movement was superb and selfishness was kept in check. During the heart of the 2nd half, the extra practice of our offensive sets paid off in some very easy, high percentage shots. It could be that Cal Poly's D is pretty poor, but we took what they gave us... and that was a lot.

In the end the Aggies posted a 81-67 win. We led by as many as 19 though, on two occasions. It was close early, but it wasn't as close at the final score might indicate.

The Players:

Anyone who attended the game could easily argue POG honors for any one of 5 Aggies that really put it on the floor tonight.

DP. Des started the game slow and wasn't really in the mix of the offense during the first half. He had 6 points at the break and some of them came at the line. In the 2nd half he came out more assertive, more aggressive and his offensive skills just couldn't be contained. He finished the night with 20 points on 8-16 shooting, went 4-4 from the line and had 6 boards. His ability to quietly put a boat-load of points on the board is amazing. His arsenal is varied and lethal... if he can just find a way to take it all with him on the road!

Spencer Nelson is the guy that most people are talking about. His line was 16 points on 7-8 shooting. He had 3 rebounds and an assist, but his energy was infectious. He helped handle the ball to beat the press with impressive skill and had my Play of the Game. Dribbling at the top of the circle, right-handed, he steps forward passing the ball between his legs. The defender over-commits to Nelsons left, so Spencer brings the ball back around behind his back to the right, driving to the basket. With two long gates he goes to lay it up, hesitates to draw contact and underhands the ball off the glass as he's spilled to the floor. The crowd was in awe/hysterics and the bench errupted with shouts and laughter. It was Spencer Kobe Nelson for a 3 point play!

Ronnie Ross put the Aggies 3-point game on the map tonight. I don't think you can over-emphasize the importance of getting some good outside looks to go down early. With Cal Poly shooting lights-out to open the game, it was Ross who singlehandedly kept us going. It wasn't just that his shots went in, but they looked good. He's got confidence in his shot now and I doubt that anyone will leave him alone outside for long. He scored all 12 of his points in the first half.

Toraino Johnson scored 7 consecutive points in the 2nd half to take our lead into double digits to stay. It was his energy on the glass and his ability to get inside off the dirbble that got him his chances and he converted. He shot 4-5 to get his 10, but had 4 assists to go with 4 rebounds also. A very solid night's work in 23 minutes.

I'm not sure who tapes the ankles for Cal Poly, but he was worth his weight in gold tonight when Mark Brown had the ball. Mark is a PG that makes this team run like a well-oiled machine. In the 2nd half especially he showed the ability to break his man down and get in the paint at will. He finished the night with 6 points on two late threes (long threes) but dished out a career high 8 assist while turning the ball over...wait, ZERO TURNOVERS! Mark Brown played 32 minutes and didn't cough it up even once! That, my friends, is a floor general! What we might have done last year with Mark Brown on the team?!

Butler, Patton, Harris and Evans all had decent nights. Calvin Brown and Stowell got in late. In all, 9 players got at least 16 minutes. Our bench outscored theirs 17-14.

The box score pretty much shows that everyone who got into the game contributed. The scoring and rebounds were very evenly distributed. It was a solid team effort that put away a tough Cal Poly team that looked dangerous for most of the first half. It seems to be a trademark of Stew's best teams... they play well together and the whole outweighs the sum of its parts. What a great effort and an exciting win as we look forward to doing the same thing to UCSB on national TV!

Final 1st 2nd Total
Cal Poly 32 35 67
Utah St 37 44 81

Cal Poly REBOUNDS  
PLAYER MIN FG FT 3PT OFF TOT AST PF ST TO PTS
S Schilling 33 6-12 1-2 4-7 1 2 0 3 1 3 17
D Kamara 19 3-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 1 3 0 0 6
V Dennis 28 7-13 0-1 0-3 2 8 1 4 0 4 14
E Jackson 21 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 0 0 2 2
J Allen 28 5-11 2-2 2-7 0 1 1 3 1 2 14
V Lisinac 6 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0
J G Iii 11 1-3 1-1 0-2 1 1 2 0 0 0 3
S Geary 20 2-5 1-1 0-3 0 1 3 0 1 1 5
F Sampson 1 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0
M Titchenal 6 0-0 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1
P Johnson 10 0-1 1-2 0-0 0 0 1 2 0 1 1
J Patterson 17 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 3 0 1 4
Totals 200 27-54 7-11 6-22 5 17 13 19 3 14 67
Percentages: FG .500, FT .636, 3PT .273
Team Rebounds: 3
Blocked Shots: 4 (V Dennis 4)

Utah St REBOUNDS  
PLAYER MIN FG FT 3PT OFF TOT AST PF ST TO PTS
D Penigar 24 8-16 4-4 0-1 3 6 0 1 2 0 20
T Johnson 23 4-5 2-3 0-0 1 4 4 2 0 0 10
S Nelson 17 7-8 2-2 0-1 0 3 1 4 1 0 16
R Ross 24 4-8 1-3 3-5 0 4 2 2 0 0 12
M Brown 32 2-5 0-0 2-4 1 3 8 0 3 0 6
N Harris 16 2-7 2-2 0-0 2 3 1 1 0 0 6
M Puzey 21 3-3 0-2 0-0 2 6 0 2 0 0 6
M Stowell 3 0-2 1-2 0-2 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
C Butler 15 2-4 0-0 0-0 1 2 2 1 0 0 4
C Brown 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
G Patton 6 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0
C Evans 16 0-0 0-0 0-0 3 4 2 1 0 0 0
Totals 200 32-58 12-18 5-13 13 36 22 14 7 0 81
Percentages: FG .552, FT .667, 3PT .385
Team Rebounds: 2
Blocked Shots: 0
Turnovers: 13 (T Johnson 3, D Penigar 3, N Harris 2, C Butler 2, C Evans, S Nelson, M Puzey)


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