Aztecs aim to sweep the Spartans in season series

SDSU huddles against Nevada. (Deanna Goldberg/EVT)

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Credit: Don De Mars/EVT

The San Diego State Aztecs are coming off a dominant performance against Fresno State, winning by 32 points on the road at the Save Mart Center. That win marks the second-biggest margin of victory this season for SDSU. They beat St. Katherine by 34 at home on December 19.

Believe it or not, the Bulldogs scored more points at Viejas Arena (47) than they did last Saturday night, scoring 41 in front of their home crowd. The combined win margin for SDSU against Fresno State this season was 59 points.

It’s unclear how much the blowout win on the road affected the AP Top 25 standing for San Diego State, as they dropped just one spot from No.19 to No. 20. SDSU remains No. 19 in the Coaches Poll.

This new AP Poll marks the first time this season where the Aztecs entered a game ranked and remained in the Top 25 after losing a game in the week prior.

“It’s a byproduct of playing quad one road games,” head coach Brian Dutcher said postgame against Utah State. “We have seven losses, all quad one and all on the road. It’s not like we’re being upset. Every game we’ve lost, I think the other team has been favored. We’re in here fighting but we haven’t got over the hump.”

Up next is San Jose State, who currently sits in last place in the Mountain West standings. At 2-13, the Spartans finish out the regular season facing the Aztecs, followed by UNLV and No. 22 Utah State. That is a tough stretch that should see them lose all three with two games on the road.

The last win for the Spartans came against Air Force, 73-66, back on February 13. Since then, San Jose State lost to Wyoming, Boise State, and Nevada. The Wolf Pack scored 50 points in the second half to propel them to a 22-point win over the Spartans this past Friday night.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

The First Meeting

In the third conference game back in early January, the Aztecs traveled north to San Jose and took down the Spartans by just three points.

The season was still young, and neither side had a good feel for the opponent, which resulted in a high-scoring contest. Every time the Aztecs scored, the Spartans responded. SDSU led by one at halftime and only outscored SJSU by two in the second half. Four players scored in double figures for the Spartans to keep them in it.

If you watched the battle up north, then you remember the 42 combined fouls called throughout the game. The Aztecs shot 21-29 from the free-throw line, while the Spartans went 23-25. Ultimately, the 23 fouls called on the Spartans benefited the Aztecs, seeing Lamont Butler nail a free throw with two seconds left to put SDSU up three points. The last nine combined points of the contest were from the charity stripe.

Jaedon LeDee played one of his better games of the season, notching a double-double. He scored 31 points and grabbed ten rebounds while drawing 15 fouls, resulting in 14-19 from the line.

Butler ended with a great performance as well scoring 16 points on 6-10 shooting. Jay Pal had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench, and Micah Parrish scored 13 on 5-9 shooting.

LeDee’s 31 points are the second most he’s scored this year. The forward scored 34 points against Washington in the overtime win in Las Vegas, which saw him win the Continental Tire Main Event MVP.

This season, the Spartans are led by a scoring threat in Myron Amey Jr.. The junior from Northern California is averaging 15.8 points per game, which is 7th in the conference. The 6-foot-2 guard also averages 4.8 rebounds per game, which is 19th in the MW. Amey Jr. scored 20 points in the loss against SDSU earlier in the season. Alvaro Cardenas scored a team-high 21 for the Spartans and currently leads the team in assists per game at 5.6, good for 5th in the conference and 30th in the nation.

Those two guards can ball. The Aztecs cannot let them shoot as well as they did in the first meeting or else it could be a much closer game than expected.

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The Second Meeting

As you would expect, coming off a 32-point win on the road and returning to their home court, the Aztecs are massive favorites against San Jose State. SDSU is favored by north of 20 points on FanDuel. San Diego State has beaten every opponent at Viejas Arena this season with a perfect 13-0 record. They are the only team in the conference with a perfect home record.

The Spartans have allowed 79.1 points per game in their last ten outings, compared to the Aztecs’ 64.6. Dutcher and his squad should have no issue scoring the rock Tuesday night.

For the first time in what felt like four months for Parrish, the senior notched double figures in scoring against Fresno State after going four straight games under the mark. Parrish is one of the top two-way players on the squad and the Aztecs will be a much better team when he is on his game. While he scored 10 points in the win, he shot just 3-10 from the field.

Over the last five games, Parrish has shot 11-42 from the floor. East Village Time’s Paul Garrison discussed Parrish’s rough stretch and what could help change it, and it starts with patience …

A return to home can help the senior who averages 10.5 points per game at Steve Fisher Court.

The Aztecs have just three games remaining until they head to Las Vegas for the Mountain West Tournament. They still have a chance at winning the regular season title but need help from the teams above them in the standings. The Aggies and Broncos are tied at 10-4 atop the conference, while the Aztecs are 10-5 and a half-game behind.

Winning the regular season title is important, however, finishing strong is what is on their mind as they know they need to be at their best heading into the conference tournament.

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