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Aztecs Smash Rams 79-49 In Key Early Season MWC Match-Up

January 9, 2022

So somebody on Twitter asked be the morning before the game for a bit of a preview of the match-up between the Top 2 teams in the Mountain West.

I watch a lot of MWC games, Pretty much all of them. And i especially watched San Diego State’s conference opener at UNLV. The Aztecs have been struggling offensively for the entire season but came out against the Rebels with a mentality of ”We’re going to beat you up around the basket” And it worked.

And so my Twitter response was this when asked for a preview:

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Simple formula for SDSU. Dominate the paint. We have a coaching staff 10 times smarter than me. They had to see it. They had to use it as part of the over-arching theme as they prepared for the Aztecs.

But for whatever reason, the Rams failed miserably. They were weak defending on the perimeter, allowing easy drives to the rim. They were weak on the glass, oftentimes fumbling rebounds and allowing easy putbacks. But most of all, they played with very little physicality.

In the end, They were outscored 34-14 in the paint and that was the game. Pure and simple.

Im not hung up on the final scoring margin being so large. Its only one game. id rather lose one game by 30 points than 10 games by 3 points.

But there are warning signs coming out of the long COVID pause. The Rams’ defense has slipped dramatically, allowing their first two conference opponents to produce offensive number that were well beyond their season averages. They have been a step slow all over the court.

Its obvious that the COVID pause has affected the team. One of the guys I follow who does advanced analytics actually analyzed the effects of a COVID pause on teams and found that the first two games were usually heavily affected. He also found that the longer the pause, the greater the effect. Heres his Tweet on the subject:

So its not a surprise that the Rams have struggled in the last two games. But statistically, the COVID struggle should be over and its time to get back to the business of competing for an MWC championship and earning an NCAA At-Large bid.

We will see how the Rams respond on Wednesday night against a very solid Utah State squad in Moby. its a very important game.

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