Aztec nation’s excitement over the potential of the 2022-2023 SDSU Basketball team continues to grow. With seniors Matt Bradley, Nathan Mensah, Aguek Arop, and Adam Seiko returning, there will be some continuity from the 2021-2022 squad. The additions of transfers Darrion Trammell, Micah Parrish, and redshirt senior Jaedon LeDee will make for interesting roster decisions early in the season.
The coaches will need to feel satisfied with their lineup rotations before the first game tips off because the Aztecs added the always difficult Brigham Young Cougars to their schedule. The programs extended their head-to-head series together, the school announced today. BYU will travel to San Diego on November 11th this year. The Aztecs will travel the following season to face BYU in Provo, Utah.
The early date against a prominent school may be intimidating for a team still gelling, but it is also eerily similar to the SDSU team that went 30-2 three seasons back.
In 2019, an unknown SDSU team made up of Malachi Flynn, Matt Mitchell, Yanni Wetzell, KJ Feagin, and Jordan Schakel went into Provo, Utah, and captured a significant road win. It was the second win of the season and a building block toward a 26-game win streak.
Schakel reflected on the game a few weeks ago on The SDSU Basketball Podcast. He remembers it well, naming it his favorite memory as an Aztec. “Everything that we were going up against that game, the altitude, the fans, it was early in our season. That was an early huge test for us, down at halftime and down in the second half. I just felt like if I can make some shots, I can get us going a little bit. I ended up making 5-for-5 threes in the second half. Really none of my shots hit the rim. Those games don’t come that often and they are super special when they do come, especially in that type of environment.”
That win featured the Aztecs’ second win ever in Provo, Utah. They boast a 2-13 record at the Marriott Center.
These two programs certainly have their history together. BYU was in the Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference before moving to the West Coast Conference in 2011. As conference foes, the Cougars dominated the rivalry as they posted a 20-10 record over SDSU.
However, SDSU earned the victory between the schools as conference rivals. The unforgettable 2011 season featured two of the best Aztec and Cougar teams. SDSU was a two-seed, and BYU was a three-seed in the NCAA tournament. Both lost in the Sweet 16. The Aztecs were led by Kawhi Leonard, and the Cougars were led by college phenom Jimmer Fredette. BYU swept the 2011 season series, winning both games by double digits, but the Aztecs dominated the Mountain West championship game and captured their fourth conference title.
Since departing, there have been fewer matchups but similar intense games. In 2014, SDSU won a double-overtime thriller in the Maui Invitational led by Aqeel Quinn and Winston Shepard.
In 2018, the teams agreed to a head-head yearly series. The series is tied at two, with both teams winning a matchup on the opposing floor.
Two seasons ago, without fans in arenas, the Cougars came into Viejas and won their first game on the Mesa since 2010. The game featured a Mitchell career-high to keep SDSU in it. He had a flurry from the three-point line as he posted 35 points and 26 in the second half but fell short.
Last season, the Aztecs, in their second game of the year, lost their early test to the Cougars on the road. It was a game where Bradley had only eight points, the team shot 3-for-22 from three, and went 9-for-19 from the free-throw line. Certainly, a winnable game that the returning SDSU players will have on their minds ahead of the 2022-2023 matchup.
Coach Brian Dutcher has always looked to test the resilience of his teams through non-conference play. He will get an early look at what they are made of on November 11th.