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Story and photos by Liz Alper

February 1, 2017 (San Diego) - Aztecs men's basketball suffered a tough loss to Colorado State at home on Saturday afternoon.  They looked to redeem themselves at home on Tuesday night against the Cowboys of Wyoming.

Unlike Saturday, this game started out with two good omens for the Aztecs; a monster dunk by junior forward Malik Pope and a three by junior guard Trey Kell.  As is always the case after a loss, it was a completely different Aztecs team tonight, complete with rebounding and drives to the hoop.  A low scoring first half sent the Aztecs to the locker room up 31-27. Senior guard Dakarai Allen led the way with 10 first half points.

Miraculously, the Aztecs stayed afloat in the second half and didn't collapse, keeping up the defensive pressure and causing turnovers.  Even though Kell, Allen and Pope were out in front with 13 points, the story of the night was sophomore transfer guard Montaque Gill-Caesar, who quickly racked up 12 bench points in a matter of minutes.  The Aztecs finally did what they had to do in the second half:  keep up the offensive and defensive pressure.  And it led to a much-needed 77-68 win.  Kell finished the game with 18 points, Pope with 17.

“Nice to get a win,” said head coach Steve Fisher. “we got the most important thing done; we closed the game with a victory.  All in all, a choppy game with the fouls on both ends of the floor, but we got ourselves a win.”

“I think this was a big confidence booster for me personally, even though some of the shots that were wide open didn’t fall," said Gill-Caesar. "They felt good, and I know that if kept shooting they would fall. That was my mindset, that the next one was going to go in regardless of whether it was a three, or a mid range, or a layup. This was a very big confidence game for me.” 

The Aztecs head out on the road again for another Saturday afternoon Mountain West matchup, this time against Fresno State.  Tipoff is at 4:00 p.m. and you can watch the game on ESPN3 and listen on The Mighty 1090.

Postgame notes

Full postgame quotes

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