Aztecs cruise past San Jose State, 77-52

Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

With their 77-52 win over the San Jose State Spartans, the San Diego State Aztecs improved to 18-7 and are still yet to lose back-to-back games on the season.

Being “on the bubble,” according to most bracketologists, this was a game the Aztecs could not afford to lose.

The Aztecs were supposed to win this contest and win it handily, as they closed as 21-point favorites. Defeating the last place Spartans by 25 points is certainly a performance worth being pleased with.

Limiting the three-pointers from San Jose State was a defensive priority for the Aztecs. The Spartans lead the Mountain West in three-pointers per game, are 25th nationally in three-pointers attempted, and tenth nationally in three-point scoring point distribution. Aztec defenders closed out shots and ran the Spartans off the line. San Jose State made just two shots from behind the arc on 19 attempts.

Pressing the Spartans also made life difficult for San Jose State. The Aztecs and their 2nd ranked defense, according to KenPom, forced 19 turnovers. Lamont Butler stole the show defensively with four steals, which matched his point total.

“We knew they were short-handed,” Aztec head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We wanted to take advantage of that with the press.”

Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

On offense, SDSU got significant contributions from players other than Matt Bradley. He did his thing by going 7-13 for 15 points, but three other Aztecs reached double figures in points.

Forward Keshad Johnson tallied 14 points to reach double-digits for the fourth time in the last five games. Most importantly, the 62.5% free throw shooter made all six of his free throw attempts.

Trey Pulliam, who last reached the double-digit plateau on Jan. 24, notched 13 points. Surprisingly, Pulliam did not record an assist. Off the bench, Chad Baker-Mazara led the team with 16 points. He was the only Aztecs to make multiple three-point shots.

“Baker-Mazara’s one-dribble pull-up is hard to guard,” Dutcher said. “He’s been shooting that at a high level.”

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Monday will provide one of the toughest contests of the season for the Aztecs. Its next game will be at the Wyoming Cowboys in what will be a quad-1 game for SDSU. The Cowboys are yet to lose at home in the Arena-Auditorium. Wyoming is currently second in the Mountain West Conference standings and will host the Nevada Wolfpack on Monday.

It will be the first and only regular-season meeting between the Aztecs and Cowboys.

Tip-off will be at 6:00 p.m. PT.

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