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Aztecs Beaten by Wyoming

January 23, 1987|STEVE DOLAN | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — When San Diego State's basketball team lost to Wyoming, 79-70, Thursday night in the Sports Arena, it continued to magnify the Aztecs' worst season since they began playing basketball in 1921-22.

Consider:

--The Aztecs have a 2-15 record. Their worst record was 6-21 in 1979-80.

--The Aztecs have nine straight losses. Their longest losing streak was 11 in 1950-51 and 1951-52. Their longest single season losing streak was 10 in 1979-80.

--The Aztecs are 0-7 in the Western Athletic Conference. Their previous worst WAC start was 0-3 in 1982-83. Their worst WAC record was 3-11 in 1979-80.

Coach Smokey Gaines, who has a 109-107 record at SDSU and 156-117 career record, said this is his most frustrating season.

"Look at my record," Gaines said. "We all have seasons like this at times."

The Aztecs went through a frustrating first half before they got things going a little their way against Wyoming. SDSU trailed late in the half, 45-24, but eventually--on the strength of three three-point baskets in the final seven minutes--cut its deficit to 77-70 with 23 seconds remaining.

Wyoming (5-2, 12-6), was much taller inside, forcing SDSU to rely on its long-range shooting. The Aztecs were 7 of 23 overall from three-point range, and Wyoming was 3 of 6. Tony Ross, SDSU's leading scorer this season, was 2 of 9 from three-point range and scored 15 points. Gerald Murray, SDSU's only inside force, had 12 points and a game-high 7 rebounds.

"I guess you have to shoot three-pointers when you can't get any action going inside," Gaines said.

Darryl Gaines, Smokey's son, scored a career-high 19 points. He was 4 of 8 from three-point range, 2 of 2 from two-point range and 3 of 3 at the free-throw line.

"Shooting from the top of the key seems like nothing to me," Gaines said. "I've been shooting from there since high school. It's not that long."

It has been a long time--26 days--since SDSU last won a game. Thursday's pattern of falling behind early and making a belated comeback has become commonplace.

"That's one of our problems," Darryl Gaines said. "We don't play like we did in the second half (against Wyoming) all of the time. If we played like that all of the time, we would've won eight games."

Wyoming was led by Fennis Dembo with 22 points and Eric Leckner with 21. The Cowboys, who shot 76.9% the first half and 66% overall, blamed their second-half letdown on a lack of concentration.

"No matter how much I screamed at halftime, I think our thoughts left San Diego and started projecting to our next game in Hawaii," Coach Jim Brandenburg said. "We lost attention, and because they were down, they came out and grabbed (the Aztecs forced 19 turnovers). It became a ragged game and hurt our momentum. To San Diego State's credit, it didn't fold."

Five of the 1,585 fans at the Sports Arena made their feelings known by wearing paper bags over their heads. Among the messages on their bags were "Return to Reality," "Where There's Smokey, There's No Fire" and "SDSU, Land of Bad Basketball."

Said Smokey Gaines: "Maybe they needed a bag over their heads. Sometimes, I wish I could put a bag over my head."

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