SAN DIEGO (AP) — Two games removed from an unfathomable loss to San Diego, the San Diego State Aztecs put on a defensive show that had the Nicholls State Colonels' heads spinning.
Jeremy Hemsley scored 20 points and keyed big runs in each half, and Trey Kell added 15 as the Aztecs ran to an 84-47 victory Thursday night.
The Aztecs (7-4) won their second straight game since their stunning loss to San Diego at Petco Park on Sunday. They held Nicholls State (3-4) to 24.6-percent shooting, while shooting 48.3 percent, and blocked 10 shots, four by Skylar Spencer. The Colonels committed 20 turnovers, including six traveling calls.
"I thought we played hard tonight and it's going to stay that way," coach Steve Fisher said. "We have to make sure that we're doing that. And they're reminding one another, which is nice. It's not just me saying, 'Play harder, play harder, play harder.'
"Defensively, we controlled the pace of the game. We made it hard for them to get clean looks."
The Aztecs have bounced back nicely from their 53-48 loss to USD in which they trailed 31-13 at halftime. Afterward, Fisher questioned his team's effort. The Aztecs responded by beating Biola 73-53 and then Nicholls State.
"This is something that gives coaches confidence and us, as players, confidence," Kell said. "It shows us a recipe for success."
San Diego State led 44-21 at halftime and then scored the first 10 points of the second half. Kell hit a 3-pointer, Hemsley converted a 3-point play, and Zylan Cheatham and Kell made layups.
Nicholls State of the Southland Conference didn't score until 4 ½ minutes into the second half on Ja'Dante' Frye's layup. Dakarai Allen answered with a 3 for SDSU to push the lead to 57-23.
"In the games at our level we've been able score the basketball with relative ease," Colonels coach J.P. Piper said. "This game's a little too fast for us and those guys are long and athletic. The window of time to catch and shoot or to catch and sweep and attack the rim is so much so much smaller. They contest everything. It was just tough for us to find ways to score the ball."
Piper said he knew the Aztecs have been inconsistent this season, and was hoping they'd be a little off.
"At first I thought maybe they were a little off," he said. "But they rallied and regrouped and found their rhythm and just kept punching us in the head, it felt like."
Hemsley, a freshman point guard, matched his career high set in the season opener against Illinois State. He keyed a 15-4 run in the first half that gave the Aztecs control, making a long jumper, a shot inside, a slam dunk and two free throws.
Frye led the Colonels with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Consecutive dunks by Winston Shepard, one on a pass from Hemsley, gave SDSU a 69-36 lead with 10:15 to play.
Shepard had 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Ben Perez scored 11.
Nicholls State: This is the Colonels' second of three trips out West. They made a trip to Hawaii and New Mexico in late November, losing both, and will visit Colorado on Dec. 18 before playing in the Las Vegas Classic starting Dec. 22.
San Diego State: The Aztecs have two games remaining before opening Mountain West play on Dec. 30 against Wyoming. They host Grand Canyon on Dec. 18 and No. 2 Kansas on Dec. 22.
Coach Piper said playing at Viejas Arena was "phenomenal. I thanked coach Fisher for the opportunity to come in here and play. One, for me to play against him, who he is and what he's accomplished in the game, is a real special treat for me. And then this atmosphere is a special atmosphere, and what coach Fisher has done here. It's a place that, if you're a basketball junkie, it'd be on your bucket list. I'm glad I got to bring a team in here. I wish we had played a little better and represented ourselves a little better than we did, but you can't shoot those percentages and expect to hang around."
Nicholls State is at North Texas on Monday night.
San Diego State hosts Grand Canyon on Dec. 18.
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