Finally a Good Win!

Photo Credit: Carson Cook

Recap of Aztec’s 72-47 rout of Long Beach State

The San Diego State Aztecs faced off against Long Beach State, although they are both state schools the two programs couldn’t be more different. The Aztecs, 5-2, and the Beach, 2-5 are headed in different directions this year. 

San Diego has the expectations of making a March Madness run, while Long Beach, last in their division, is not expected to be competitive in their division. The Aztecs, who haven’t had a 20 point win this season, were expected to beat Long Beach by 20. 

Long Beach’s starting guard, Drew Cobb, has an interesting story, to say the least. The Senior guard’s journey to Long Beach has not been easy. Cobb, from Sacramento, went to Sheldon for four years and helped lead the team to a top 10 ranking in the state. Although he played well at Sheldon he ended up at Fresno Community College to play ball. 

While at Fresno CC, Cobb played in 32 games and held a 4.0 GPA. Cobb would decide to transfer to Long Beach and try to walk on for the team where he later earned himself a scholarship through his hard work and determination. 

Early in the game, Matt Bradley was scoring from everywhere on the court, Lamont Butler was clamping up, and Trey Pulliam was directing traffic for the Aztecs. The two teams went back and forth scoring and not much defense was being played. 

In the halfcourt setting, Long Beach was scoring easily and held a lead with 11:33 left in the first half. At 11:33, a media timeout was called and that is when the Aztecs flipped the switch. From the end of the timeout to the 2:20 mark, the Aztecs went on an 18-4 run. Defensively, they were getting after it, converting steals into points on the other end. 

In the first 10 minutes, Long Beach was able to work for open shots but after the timeout was called, they struggled to even get a shot up. “Last Chance U” star Joe Hampton had multiple turnovers and almost had as many turnovers as points in the first half. 

What made the Aztec run possible was how they clamped up on the defensive end. Nathan Mensah brought the crowd to their feet in the first half with a big-time block in front of his own bench. The difference between this game and the UCR, ASU, or UTA game was free throws and three-point shooting. All season SDSU has struggled to shoot the ball but couldn’t miss against LBSU. 

In the second half, the domination by SDSU was highlighted by their first 20+ point win and a few big-time dunks. Multiple times, SDSU stole the ball from LBSU and had wide-open lanes to the basket. Keshad Johnson caught an alley-oop and Butler had his second crowd-rising dunk through traffic which caused him to be taken to the locker room after a hard fall. 

Long Beach lost this game because of their poor shooting from the line and deep. Shooting 0% from deep on eight attempts and shooting around 50% from the line. 

The MVP of the game for the Aztecs has to go to Keith Dinwiddie Jr., who scored 12 points off the bench and brought the energy the Aztecs have missed from the guard position all season. Knocking down threes and midrange shots that he had missed all season allowed Bradley and Pulliam to rest more than they had all season. 

SDSU earned a much-needed statement win and LBSU will head back to The Beach to work on their three-point and free-throw shooting.

Link to SDSU v LBSU Recap: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sdsu-basketball-talk-w-cook-talks/id1584585210?i=1000543586344

Written by: Carson Cook

SDSU MBB Needs to Play Better

Recap of the 66-53 win over UC Riverside on Nov. 9

SDSU MBB returned to Viejas Arena on Tuesday to face off against UC Riverside. The Aztecs looked to show their dominance after a sort of disappointing win against St. Katherine.

Any win is good, especially if it’s starting off the season 1-0. But for the Aztecs, these are not the wins that they should be ecstatic about. The Aztecs won by 13 against UCR but a double-digit win doesn’t tell the whole story.

The two teams were close throughout the entire game even being tied 13-13 with 11:38 left to go in the first half. Offensively besides Seniors Matt Bradley and Trey Pulliam, the Aztecs could barely buy a basket. Only two players for the Aztecs scored in double digits, Bradley 23 and Pulliam 15.

The team shot just 2-11 from deep and 18-29 from the line. Although the Aztecs won the rebound battle 34-26 it wasn’t pretty. Without Nathan Mensah on the court, the rebounding was sloppy and lackadaisical. 

Again, Sophomore Lamont Butler struggled in 16 minutes scoring just five points. Although Butler started in the preseason versus St. Katherine, Senior Adam Seiko started versus UCR. In 29 minutes Seiko scored zero points, had one assist and one turnover.

A bright spot for the team was Chad Baker-Mazara. In 16 minutes, he brought energy, energy, and more energy. Baker-Mazara had a crowd-raising block and knocked down three free throws early in the game.

After another game in Viejas Arena, the Aztecs still don’t look like a top 25 team in the nation. They struggle to shoot the three-ball and outside of Mensah, Bradley, and Pulliam they struggle to score the ball. Bradley is going to have to score the ball at a high rate if they want to have a chance in a competitive game. 

Once again, if the Aztecs want to be a top 25 team in the nation, THEY NEED TO PLAY BETTER! Next up will be a good matchup against an always competitive BYU team.

Full game recap: https://youtu.be/kuMumFKT_yA 

Written by: Carson Cook

The Return: SDSU Basketball

SDSU Men’s basketball is finally back. The smell of popcorn, the cheers of fans, and a nearly half-full stadium were present in the first game of the year.

The last time fans were in the building, SDSU was a top 25 team in the nation and was led by, now Raptors guard, Malachi Flynn. 

The Aztecs faced off against St. Katherine, an NAIA school located in San Marcos. The scrimmage was the second of two for the Aztecs, the first being a closed-door scrimmage against UCLA, who in March of this year went all the way to the Final Four. 

Early in the game Senior Trey Pulliam started off hot, knocking down two mid-range jumpers working in the pick n roll with Nathan Mensah. Keshad Johnson received the first start of his career and grabbed six rebounds and scored four points in the first half.

Senior Nathan Mensah came out aggressive shooting the mid-range shot with confidence, scoring six points on 3-6 shooting. Newcomer Matt Bradley from Cal struggled to work his way in early but caught fire scoring eight points late in the first half. 

SDSU continued to push the pace against a St. Katherine’s team who in the first 13 attempts scored just two field goals. At half the Aztecs lead 34-14.

Going to half with a 20 point lead the Aztecs looked to expand that lead but struggled defensively. After scoring only 14 points in the first half the Aztecs allowed 30 second-half points to a team that had struggled to put the ball in the basket for 20 minutes. 

The second half was a balanced effort between Bradley and Mensah in which Bradley scored seven points, leading to a game-high of 15 and Mensah corralled every rebound in sight, putting him at a game-high of 11. 

The team struggled throughout the game from beyond the arc shooting just 19% from long range. Sophomore Lamont Butler struggled from the field scoring only three points in 20+ minutes and took a hard fall late in the game.

There were positives in the 21 point victory but the Aztecs defense in the second half was lackluster and sloppy. If the Aztecs want to win the conference and compete deep into March Madness they must look at their free-throw shooting, three-point shooting, and defensive miscues

Next up is a formidable opponent in UC Riverside on Nov. 9 at Viejas Arena which, on that day, the team will raise its 2021 Mountain West Conference Champion and the 2021 Mountain West Tournament Championship banners into the rafters. SDSU has a lot to work on but it is early and with Coach Brian Dutcher at the helm, the Aztecs will work hard to progress throughout the season.

Written by: Carson Cook

Aztecs Defeated by Utah State in Mountain West Championship, Must Rebound

For the second year in a row, the Aztecs were defeated by Utah State University in the Mountain West Basketball Championship.

“That’s March Madness basketball. It just started in the conference tournament,” Head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We will learn from it and we will be ready when we see who we play in 10 days.”

Aggies’ Sam Merrill made a challenging game-winning three pointer over SDSU’s KJ Feagin with 2.5 seconds left on the game clock.

“[I] couldn’t have played better defense,” Senior KJ Feagin said.

Merrill finished with 27 points and was named MVP for the second straight year.

With the championship win, Utah State gets the Mountain West’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

The Aztecs led by 16 points in the first half and appeared to be in firm control of the game. The Aggies didn’t make a field goal from 15:06 remaining to 2:11 remaining in the first half.

In the Aztecs first two games of the 2020 Air Force Reserve Mountain West Basketball Championships, they struggled against Air Force and Boise State in the first halves before pulling away in the second half.

It was the opposite on Saturday, the Aztecs were cold in the closing stages of the first half and it stayed true for the entire game.

SDSU made 34% of their field goals for the game, which included only making 12% of their three pointers in the second half.

The Aztecs had a strong performance from Yanni Wetzell, he finished with a 12 point and 13 rebound double-double.

“I don’t know if they made a whole lot of adjustments. It was just a matter of me putting two halves together,” Wetzell said. “I think I performed better in the first half, and that’s something I’m going to take and try and improve on, and promise you I’m going to put two halves together once that Tournament comes.”

Malachi Flynn added 16 points and Feagin added 11. However Wetzell, Feagin, and Flynn combined to shoot 14-for-43.

What truly hurt the Aztecs was Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel combining for only four points.

“You know, Jordan, they stayed out on Jordan. He couldn’t find any opportunities,” Dutcher said. “Matt didn’t have a great game today Obviously I think he’d be the first to say that. I don’t know what he was from the field, 1-for-7 from the field, 0-for-2 from three.”

The Aztecs admitted this loss hurt and left them feeling deflated after the game.

“I think I speak for everybody when I feel like that shot and us taking this loss just took all the life out of us today,” Feagin said. “I wanted to cut down nets. We all wanted to cut down nets.”

With the loss, the Aztecs will likely drop from a No. 1 seed to No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

With the probable change in seeding, the Aztecs would stay in the West instead fo traveling to the East.

“I want to be a 1 seed, so I want to be a 1 seed. I want to be a 1 seed in the west,” Dutcher said. “So we’ll see what happens. I mean, I think we’re good enough.

They potentially will have 13 days before their next game.

“I don’t think it’s that hard to sit on a loss. It’s hard losing the conference championship in the last two seconds of the game,” Dutcher said.

The important games haven’t started yet, but if the Aztecs lose in the first or second round of the NCAA tournament, it will feel like this historic season was all for naught.

The Aztecs must rebound and take their winning-ways to the tournament.

If Flynn, Feagin, Mitchell and Wetzell show up in the same game, SDSU can beat anyone.

Written by: Dan Farr