Aztecs defeat Wyoming 81-65 thanks to Lamont Butler’s big night

Elijah Saunders celebrates with the Viejas Arena crowd. (Justin Mojica/EVT)

SDSU’s bench congratulates the on-court Aztecs. (Justin Mojica/EVT)

The San Diego State Aztecs responded from the one-point loss at Boise State with a massive win at home in front of the fans at Viejas Arena.

Lamont Butler led the way with his season-high 23 points.

“Just another game with Wyoming,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “Everything was expected. They are dangerous offensively. They shoot the ball at a high level.”

The Cowboys entered Tuesday night winless in all six of their true road games this season.

SDSU made sure to keep that intact.

The Aztecs started hot offensively, draining three of their first four three-pointers as Elijah Saunders nailed two of them. Because of it, SDSU kept shooting them and ended up attempting seven in the first four and half minutes. It was clear that the Cowboys were going to continue letting Saunders and the Aztecs shoot from deep, as they knew that wouldn’t be what beats them.

SDSU ended up attempting 19 three’s in the first half and only made four of them. The players knew that they needed to improve from beyond the arc if they wanted to be successful.

“Today, they (Wyoming) didn’t guard Elijah, Jay Pal, and sagged a little bit on other guys. These guys work on their game so I don’t mind them taking early three’s. You know, if they are making them then maybe you blow up the game early, but when we miss enough it got to the point where we said to duck them in instead.”

The Aztecs finished the game going 8-30 from deep. They shot 4-11 in the second half.

Darrion Trammell focuses in on defense against Wyoming. (Justin Mojica/EVT)

The Pokes responded by draining two of their first four three’s as well, keeping pace with the Aztecs. SDSU went up 11-6 early and then proceeded to go 1-10 from the floor for the next five-ish minutes of play.

With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Byrd left the game limping with a hip injury. He was replaced by Parrish but did return to action for a few minutes in the second half.

The Aztecs’ offense then fell flat as they couldn’t continue their hot shooting from early in the game. They allowed an 8-0 run from Wyoming that gave the Pokes a five-point lead with just under four minutes to play in the half.

Butler and Jaedon LeDee refused to allow the Cowboys to keep their advantage heading into the half, as the Aztecs ended the period on a 7-0 run to lead by two at the break, 34-32.

Darrion Trammell did what he does best and nailed in the fadeaway mid-range jumper at the buzzer to close out the half.

Wyoming started the second half on fire, scoring eight quick points off two triples from Sam Griffin. However, the Aztecs didn’t let it get to their heads. SDSU responded right away by regaining the lead and jumping to a 54-45 lead with 11:50 remaining.

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San Diego State must have been aware that the Cowboys have four come-from-behind wins on the season as SDSU did everything in their power not let them stay in rhythm for much of the second half. Wyoming’s FG% in the second half was at 31.6%, with 7:00 remaining in the game.

“I just know they are well coached,” Dutcher said when asked about Wyoming’s four comeback wins this season. “The thing we told the team all week was that they (Wyoming) are going to play hard no matter what the score is. They were down in a bunch of games and they never give in. We just kept after them and executing and played well enough to win.”

The Aztecs played through LeDee for a majority of the second period, as it was obvious that the Cowboys couldn’t contain him for an entire game. LeDee finished with 17 points and seven rebounds in the game.

SDSU pulled away as there was nothing the Pokes could do to stay in the contest.

Lamont Bulter with a bandaged hand. (Justin Mojica/EVT)

Butler was the star of the night as he did everything on the court for San Diego State.

“Like Dutcher said, their gameplay was to sag off,” Butler said about Wyoming’s strategy against him. “Back at Wyoming last year they sagged off and I was able to knock down shots. This game they sagged off a little bit and instead of jacking up three’s, I got in the paint and was able to get downhill in transition which opened up my game a little bit. Credit to my coaches and teammates for putting me in that position.”

Up next for the Aztecs is one week from today on the road against No. 24 Colorado State.

News & Stats 

  • LeDee finished two points shy of 1,000 for his career.
  • Butler finished with 23 points, five rebounds, four rebounds, and three steals.
  • Trammell ended with 12 points and three rebounds.
  • Sam Griffin ended with 22 points for Wyoming; Mason Walters finished with 18.
  • SDSU held Wyoming to just 35.5% in the second half.
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