After absolutely dominating Air Force on Friday, the Aztecs kept their foot on the peddle. This game didn’t feature a 50-point lead, but it was another well-executed game.
From the start, the game plan was a bit different. The starting five was the same, but the subs came in a lot quicker. Adam Seiko replaced Lamont Butler after just a minute of play; after two and a half minutes, Matt Mitchell II returned to the court when he replaced Jordan Schakel. This is a clear attempt to avoid fatigue from the altitude. In the second game against Utah State, Nathan Mensah was especially hit hard, so his minutes were monitored this series.
When asked about the altitude and how it affected the substitutions, coach Brian Dutcher said, “I just felt the altitude did have an effect on us. I know people probably didn’t want to hear that, but even in shootaround today, I thought certain guys were struggling, so we went to the bench quick. We played three- or four-minute stints for most of the guys, and it was just a great team effort today”.
In his second start as an Aztec, Terrell Gomez stepped up and scored the second-most points behind Schakel. He stuck to his bread and butter of shooting from deep. All nine of his shot attempts were from range, and five of them found their way into the basket. Despite his size, he typically will drive inside and force defenders to respect him inside. In this game, he dished the ball around when he didn’t have his deep shot. His six assist this game tops his previous record of four that he set in Friday’s game.
Building off his great game was Jordan Schakel. He has seemingly re-found his 3-PT shot this series and highlighted it this game. He led the team in scoring once again; he made six threes, two from within the arc, and two FTs to total 24 points. This is his third 20+ point game of the season and all of which led to Aztec wins.
With his increased success and open shots, Schakel talked about how the gameplan helped create good matchups, “Just being able to move freely, a lot of times when guys drive in the defense can get confused. I was just able to move to open spots, but my teammates just did a great job of finding me when I was open”.
The next guard to hot from deep was Adam Seiko. Seiko is coming off one of his best career games in which he scored 14. In this game, he put nine points coming from a perfect 3-3 on 3-point shots as a whole. SDSU made 53.3% of their three-pointers and 51.7% of their FG attempts.
This game’s big surprise was Mitchell returning to action after being out with a bone bruise and hyperextended knee. An injury that occurred against Utah State on the 14th was expected to keep him out for about two weeks. All things considered, that was good news based on the type of injury sustained. He came in this game off the bench and still managed to be one of the team’s best players. In 14 minutes of play scored 10 points, got seven rebounds, and dished out three assists.
The rebounds in this game were a huge aspect of why the Aztecs once again dominated. They outrebounded Air Force 42-18. Air Force’s starting lineup does have Nikc Jackson and Keaton Van Soelen, who are 6’8” and 6’7” respectively but they combined for just three rebounds. It was actually the 6-foot-2, A.J Walker that lead Air Force with five rebounds. SDSU’s 16 offensive rebounds produced 15-second chance points this game.
SDSU will keep this momentum when returning home for a two-game series again Wyoming on Thursday and Saturday.