Johnson Nets Milestone in Near Top 10 Upset
Jan. 16, 2014
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Bulldogs' senior guard Tyler Johnson became the 30th player in program history to surpass 1,000 career points as the Fresno State men's basketball team nearly upset No. 10 San Diego State on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena at Aztec Bowl.
Even though the Bulldogs battled for 40 minutes before falling 68-60, Fresno Stat did almost everything it needed to do to knock off the Mountain West-leading Aztecs except get to the free throw line.
Xavier Thames scored 28 points and Winston Shepard keyed a 12-2 run for the Aztecs, who rallied for their 14th straight win.
SDSU won it at the line. Fresno State was whistled for 25 fouls and the Aztecs made 26 of 41 free throws. SDSU was called for only 14 fouls and Fresno State was 11 of 15 from the line.
The stat sheet showed the teams played evenly, except for SDSU taking 26 more free throws and making 15 more.
"Give (San Diego State) credit," Fresno State coach Rodney Terry said of the Aztecs' effort. "They were able to make more than they missed and it gave them a chance to win a close ballgame."
Terry said the Bulldogs weren't physical enough in a 76-57 loss at Colorado State but were against the Aztecs. Fresno State outrebounded the tenth-ranked Aztecs 38-37 on the glass - led by Johnson's team-high 11 that gave the senior his fifth career double-double.
"We had to match them physically on the glass and I thought we did that for the better part of the game," Terry said. "At the end of the day you've got to make plays and finish possessions - that's what (the Aztecs) were able to do tonight."
San Diego State (15-1, 4-0 Mountain West) won their 38th consecutive game against a team from California. On Monday, SDSU reached its highest AP ranking since it was No. 6 on March 14, 2011.
San Diego State set a school record for fewest turnovers in a game with four.
The Aztecs' 12-2 run started after Allen Huddleston hit a 3-pointer with 10:50 to go to give Fresno State a 46-44 lead. Matt Shrigley made the front end of a 1-and-1 and then hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give SDSU a 48-46 advantage. Thames added a 3 for a five-point lead before Johnson made a 17-foot jumper for the Bulldogs.
Shepard then took over with a spin move and a bank shot followed by a three-point play, after he was fouled on a goaltending call, for a 56-48 lead, SDSU's biggest.
Shepard scored 17 points and Josh Davis had 13 rebounds.
The Aztecs' only scoring in the final 8 minutes was from the free throw line, where they made 13 of 17. Their last field goal came when Shepard was fouled on the goaltending call with 8:01 left.
"I don't know what we could have done differently," Terry said. "We got in front of them and challenged their shots."
Fresno State (8-10, 1-4) led for most of the final 8 1/2 minutes in the first half thanks to a 27-13 run. Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the spurt and Huddleston also made a shot from behind the arc.
SDSU bounced back behind Thames, who scored eight of his team's final 10 points in the half. Thames hit the first of two free throws, then had a three-point play and a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left that gave SDSU a 31-29 lead.
Marvelle Harris made a 3 with 14 seconds remaining to give the Bulldogs a 32-31 halftime edge.
"I'm proud of the effort," Terry said. "We just have to bottle it up and bring it every night."
Fresno State built a 27-19 lead on San Diego State with under 5 minutes to play in the 1st half.
The Bulldogs return to the Save Mart Center on Saturday when Fresno State hosts defending MW champion New Mexico at 4 p.m. A limited edition Paul George figurine will be given away to the first fans to the game as well as more opportunities to win one throughout the game. Fresno State students are invited to a free pizza party at 3pm on the upper concourse.
"Catch the Wave!" - 2013-14 Fresno State men's basketball tickets are now on sale and can be ordered online at www.gobulldogs.com or over the phone at 559-278-DOGS (3647). The official home of the Fresno State Bulldogs is 940 AM ESPN Radio.