The San Diego State Aztecs returned home to Viejas Arena to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs for the Mountain West Conference opener. The Aztecs blew out the Bulldogs by 27 points.
“This was a great way to open up conference,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “It was a complete performance. You know, when we guard like that and hold the opposition to 30% shooting, out-rebound, and shoot over 50% at home, then we are going to be hard to beat.”
The Aztecs improved to (12-2) on the season and start (1-0) in conference play. SDSU has now beaten Fresno State in nine consecutive games. The Bulldogs fell to (7-7) on the season.
The Bulldogs played USD right before the new year and took down the Toreros 71-67, just up the 8 for their first true road win of the season. Leading scorer Isaiah Hill returned to action for the Bulldogs after missing the game against USD with an injury. Hill struggled in his return as the Aztecs held him to two points on (1-4) shooting in the first half. He ended the night with just six points.
The Aztecs’ defense started the game on fire. They held the Bulldogs to just 23% shooting through the first eight minutes of the game. They were forcing turnovers, blocking shots, and displaying tight pressure around the perimeter. The Bulldogs ended the half with a 37% FG percentage.
“The key to our success is defense and rebounding,” Dutcher said. “We have proven that we are capable of winning in a lot of different games because our defense and our rebounding is usually what carries us … and that was good tonight.”
SDSU found their rhythm offensively as well, but the turnovers got in their way for a short while. They happened to commit five turnovers (four by Jay Pal) in the first eight minutes, but the mistakes slowed down. SDSU would finish the remaining 12 minutes by committing just one more turnover.
As the half was winding down, Reese Waters stepped on a Fresno State player’s foot after a three-point attempt and fell to the floor in pain. He was carried to the locker room and did not return to action. Just a few minutes later, Byrd walked off the floor limping and did not return either.
Coach Dutcher said after the game that Reese Waters injured his ankle in walk thru earlier today. He tested it out and wanted to go. He has a high ankle sprain
Miles Byrd has turf toe according to Dutcher
— Chris Spiering (@Clutch__Chris) January 4, 2024
The end of the half came with a bit of drama. Fresno State had possession and failed to get a shot attempt off before the shot clock buzzer. However, the officials didn’t call a shot clock violation. Instead, the Bulldogs were awarded a wide-open three made by Jalen Weaver. The fans in attendance were not happy, as an eruption of boos lasted a few minutes. It was clear the shot was very late, but luckily for the Aztecs, they still led by 13 points.
SDSU took a 39-26 lead into the break.
— San Diego State Men’s Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) January 4, 2024
San Diego State kept momentum going and pulled away to begin the second half. A 12-0 run helped propel them to a 23-point lead with around 15 minutes remaining in the game. There was nothing the Bulldogs could do to kept back in the matchup.
Jaedon LeDee and Lamont Butler dominated the second half. They combined to score 16 of the 18 points to begin the second period.
With Waters and Byrd out, BJ Davis checked in with around 12 minutes remaining in the game for his first action in quite some time. He had his career high in minutes at just under ten and finished with one point, two rebounds, and one blocked shot.
“BJ is an aggressive guard,” Dutcher said. “He had some opportunities to score. BJ is going to be a very good player but unlike Byrd and Saunders as freshman, he won’t get a lot of minutes. If he continues to work hard then his minutes will continue to increase this year and into the future.”
The Aztecs played a very good, complete game against Fresno State. It’s always good to start conference play with a huge victory.
Up next for the Aztecs is again at home this Saturday, January 6, against UNLV. It is a 1 pm PT start.
News & Stats
- LeDee ended with 21 points
- Butler ended with 11 points and four assists
- Parrish had 11 points and seven rebounds
- SDSU held Fresno State to just 34.5% from the field
- SDSU shot 52.6% from the floor
Chris is a graduate of the University of San Diego. He is the former Sports Editor for the USDVista newspaper. Chris is also an athlete and is huge fan of San Diego sports. Chris has covered the San Diego Loyal, and contributes regularly about the Padres.