Aztecs defeat San Jose State 72-64; improve to 14-0 at home

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

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Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs sweep the San Jose State Spartans in the season series in a close battle at Viejas Arena.

The Spartans showed up to San Diego with the intention of upsetting the Aztecs, and they almost did so. Jaedon LeDee led the Aztecs with a monster game, finishing with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

“We played good basketball today,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “The first half defensively was as good of a half as we can play and it carried over from last game. We know how good San Jose is and we don’t worry about their record. We worry about what we say and what we see when we watch tape on them. We had enough offense to get past them.”

SDSU improved to 22-7 on the season and 11-5 in conference play. SJSU fell to 9-20 and 2-14 in MW play. SDSU remains a half-game behind Utah State in the MW.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT Sports

The Spartans started the night by draining two of their first three triples to take an early 8-5 lead at the first TV timeout. Alvaro Cardenas, who scored 21 against SDSU in the first meeting, nailed a three-pointer and assisted on a basket to help the Spartans start strong.

San Jose State played great defense to start, allowing only five points in the first six and a half minutes. SDSU struggled to score, but Elijah Saunders came off the bench and slammed one in to get the crowd going.

The Aztecs slowly leveled the score at 15, with 7:38 remaining in the first half. Both teams shot 40% or worse during that span, with eight combined turnovers. This second meeting already contained more defense compared to the first back in early January. Lamont Butler assisted on three baskets, while Micah Parrish started the night going 2-2 with five points.

His offense needed to get back on track for this matchup.

Miles Heide gave the Aztecs their first lead of the game, 17-15, with a contested layup on the slip screen. Heide had five points and two blocks already for the Aztecs.

SDSU would then separate themselves from SJSU by extending their lead to seven by halftime.

The defense stepped up for the Aztecs and held the Spartans to shoot 38% from the floor in the first half.

SDSU led 29-22 at the break.

San Jose State started the second half by issuing a 1-3-1 zone, forcing the Aztecs to attempt more three-pointers. They wanted to contain LeDee as often as they could. SDSU started 0-4 from deep in the second half.

“We looked at them and were prepping for them to play a lot of zone,” LeDee said postgame. “Especially with the big man they had out. I think we got it done and ended up winning so we found a way.”

The Aztecs led 39-33 with 14:27 remaining in the contest. The Spartans started the second half 5-10 from the field.

Just like that, SDSU started to run away with the game. Saunders drained his second triple to put them up 17 with 11:23 remaining. The Aztecs scored 13 points in three minutes to take over. Saunders and Heide had 13 combined points off the bench for the Aztecs.

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Myron Amey Jr. and the Spartans did not quit. Amey’s 4th three-pointer of the game brought them back to within five points with five minutes remaining. His point total reached 17 on 6-14 shooting. Cardenas had just eight points on 3-9 shooting.

What happened next was astonishing.

LeDee stripped the ball for a steal and slammed it in for a 3-point play. He made the free throw to go up eight points, and Viejas Arena was loud once again. LeDee was up to 25 points on the night.

Just four minutes remained for the Aztecs to complete the mission.

The Spartans continued to play tough. They did not quit. Cardenas hit another triple, and the Aztecs’ lead was just four with less than a minute remaining. SDSU needed another basket and one more stop to put the Spartans away.

Credit: Don De Mars

The Aztecs also needed to hit their free throws to seal the victory. Reese Waters and Miles Byrd hit four in a row to extend the lead to eight to put the Spartans away.

The Aztecs won their 14th home game of the season to stay perfect.

“I thought the game plan was good,” Dutcher said. “But sometimes players make really important plays and they (SJSU) made important plays to get back in the game. Tim Miles is a really good coach and they got good players at San Jose State.”

Up next for the Aztecs will be in one week as they get a break this weekend. On Tuesday, March 5, SDSU will take on UNLV in Las Vegas at 8:00 pm. SDSU will get a good feel for the Vegas environment before heading back out for the Mountain West Tournament.

News & Stats

  • LeDee – 27 points, 11 rebounds
  • Saunders – 10 points, two rebounds
  • Parrish – nine points, one assist
  • Trammell – eight assists, four rebounds
  • SDSU shot 13-13 from the line in the second half
  • The Aztecs have won 20 straight home games
  • Amey Jr. and Cardenas combined for 28 points

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