“The Show” was 900-some miles away. Steve Fisher didn’t have the raucous San Diego State student section waiting just outside the locker-room door, didn’t have the benefit of the home crowd’s motivation and inspiration. Indeed, if the Aztecs head coach felt the need for one of those “I believe that we will win” moments that have become the SDSU signature at Viejas Arena, it had to come now from inside the visitors room at faraway Boise State. Down by nine after a strikingly pungent first half by Aztec (and most other) standards, Fisher resorted to an age-old coaching ploy. The Show of Hands. “At halftime, I said “Look me in the eye and I’ll be able to tell if you’re telling me the truth,” said Fisher, reflecting on what became a most incredible win Wednesday night. “ “Who in here believes that we’re gonna win this game?’ Well, they all raised their hands.” There was something about the way Fisher’s inflection changed when he said that last sentence, the way his voice trailed off at the unanimity. Maybe because, well, who isn’t going to raise his hand at what clearly was not a trick question? Whatever Fisher saw in anybody’s eyes, he saw with his own eyes that the Aztecs didn’t come out playing that much better in the second half, falling further behind. With his ears he could hear a Boise State crowd whose screams were shaking the snow off the roof of Taco Bell Arena with a 14-point lead, and it was right about then that Fisher really got his show of lightning-quick hands. “Everybody was like, we’re gonna stop playing games," said Dwayne Polee II. "We’re gonna do what we have to do, play our style of basketball and get this W.” No. 20. Again. Ninth time in nine years. Fed the ball on a Xavier Thames pass that stunned everyone but its recipient, Polee had calmly sunk the winning three-pointer with three seconds remaining. Thames had had yet another of those games where he took the game into his own hands, hitting seven straight points to push the Aztecs into the lead, but what he did last says more about the team captain and his team. “We trust ‘X’ with the game and “X’ trusted me with the big shot at the end,” said Polee, remarkably composed for a guy who’d previously shot just 32 percent from three-point range. “I wasn’t surprised at all because “X” is an unselfish player. I knew that if one person was open, he’d find him, and that person happened to be me.” Teams and players often can forget about matters of cohesion and coordination when they reach the strata of the Top Five, the realm where a loss by someone here and someone there can make you the top-rated team in the country, just like that. Then again, think of this. Had that shot by Polee not gone through and the win streak been ended at 18 games, the Aztecs likely would have been bounced out of the top 10, but they’d also have found themselves in second place in the Mountain West Conference with a single loss. As SDSU was escaping Boise with an unbeaten MWC record after nine games, New Mexico was upping its mark to 9-1 with its triumph over Wyoming.
Aztecs are the "Show" on the road
San Diego Union-Tribune | Feb 8