Not Ready for Prime-Time Aztecs Lose Ugly to the Utes, 93-65

January 18, 1987|LEE BENSON

SALT LAKE CITY — In the Western Athletic Conference television game of the week, San Diego State's conference record dropped to 0-6 and its overall record fell to 2-14 in a 93-65 loss to the University of Utah Saturday in the Special Events Center.

There was, however, a consolation prize for the Aztecs--the game was not televised in San Diego.

The WAC basketball network covers most of the far-flung conference, and even goes into portions of Idaho and Arizona and, for some reason, Fairfax, Va. But this year the network is not picked up by any of the San Diego television stations, which may indicate that they saw what was coming.

The Aztecs' inept play Saturday further underscored the problems of Coach Smokey Gaines' team, which has no seniors.

The Aztecs gave Utah center Mitch Smith a three-point play--the old-fashioned kind--in the first seconds of the game and were never thereafter in the game. By the time five minutes had expired, Smith had nine points, the Utes were up, 17-10, and there was a sound of TV channel switchers popping all the way from Idaho to Fairfax.

The worst margin was, 42-18, Utah, after 15 minutes. Then Utah Coach Lynn Archibald took Smith out--he had already scored 16 points--and began a steady stream of substitutions. The Ute bench loved this game. All but one Utah player scored.

Forward Albert Springs led Utah with 23 points, including 7 of 7 from the field and 9 of 10 from the free-throw line. As a team, the Utes shot 56% from the field and 81.5% from the line. By contrast, San Diego State was 38% from the field and 56.5% (13 of 23) from the line.

"We got the shots--they just wouldn't fall," Gaines said.

The Aztecs had played much better Thursday night--the opening game of this Utah trip--in a 94-82 loss at Brigham Young. "But it's a tough trip by the time it's over," Gaines said. "The WAC is really tough on the road."

Archibald agreed. "It is hard to go on the road in this league," he said. "But I hope (what happened) is because of the way we played."

Utah's WAC record improved to 4-2 and its overall record to 12-5.

All 11 Aztecs who made the trip played in this one. Starters Tony Ross and Juan Espinoza scored 12 points to share team-high honors with reserve guard Johnny Scruggs. Scruggs, who was involved in last season's bench-clearing brawl between Utah and San Diego State in the WAC tournament in Laramie, Wyo., was booed by the crowd of 9,652 every time he touched the ball. But he made 5 of 6 field-goal attempts, pulled down 3 rebounds and had an assist and a steal in 23 minutes.

Aztec center Gerald Murray had 11 rebounds as SDSU outrebounded Utah, 38-36. But other than that, there wasn't much for the Aztecs to write home. Or broadcast home, either.

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