Aztecs prepare for deceptively tough road test

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The Aztecs travel to Fresno, CA, to take on the Fresno State Bulldogs. The first meeting, in Viejas Arena, was a 74-47 victory for SDSU. The Bulldogs and their head coach, former Aztec assistant Justin Hutson, will be looking to get their revenge on their home floor. 

The Bulldogs have had extra time to prepare after losing to Boise State on February 17th. Injuries have taken a toll on Fresno St.’s rotation. Hutson was forced to play five players over thirty minutes with two competing for the full game in the 90-66 loss to the Broncos. 

What worked well

It should not be a surprise, but the big men were fantastic in the first matchup. Jaedon LeDee shot 75% from the floor and finished with 21 points. Miles Heide, Jay Pal, and Elijah Saunders had solid games as well. As a team, the Aztecs scored 2.2 points per possession on postups. That is fantastic efficiency. 

Hitting big men rolling to the rim was efficient as well, scoring 1.8 points per possession. The Bulldogs couldn’t stop the big men. Expect that advantage to be pressed more on the road. 

The defense was also stellar. Fresno St couldn’t get any offensive rhythm or flow during the game due to the Aztecs playing their disruptive style. It resulted in terrible shot attempts by the Bulldogs, who shot well below their season averages. 

Expected Fresno State Adjustments

Fresno State is without their defensive anchor, Eduardo Andre, likely for the season. His backup, Enoch Boakye, also missed the majority of the last two games with an undisclosed injury. Against Boise State, the Bulldogs’ starting lineup had no one taller than 6-foot-7.

Similar to other teams, the Bulldogs will want to collapse on the paint hard, limit shots at the rim, and make it hard for LeDee to get clean looks. Turning LeDee into a passer is the best strategy for opponents, and with a smaller, quicker lineup, it will be key for Fresno St. 

On offense, they will want to spread the floor as much as possible. They have had a week to work on playing without a true big man, and while that’s not enough time to install a whole new offense, it is enough time to work on a few wrinkles. Look for them to hunt switches, attack when they get a mismatch and hope to draw some extra fouls from LeDee. 

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Expected SDSU Adjustments

It is hard to find adjustments after beating a team by almost 30 points. The Aztecs will look to LeDee in the post a lot, trying to get him going and let him dominate like he did in the first game. One key that the Aztecs have been working on is cutting when LeDee has the ball. It has had mixed success over the past few games, but getting players cutting toward the rim when LeDee has the ball is one way to try and counter the double teams. 

Defensively, expect the Aztecs to pressure the ball more. Fresno State missed a lot of shots they would normally hit in the first game, and counting on that a second time is not a safe bet, especially on the road. If the Aztecs can force more turnovers, it will take away scoring opportunities while also leading to easy points. 


It is said that the 3-ball is the ultimate equalizer in basketball. Fresno State has a couple of guys that can get hot from behind the arc, led by Xavier Dusell. Combined with their slow pace of play, that could lead to a long night for the Aztecs. SDSU has struggled to shoot the ball beyond the arc this season. If they once again come out cold and a couple Bulldogs catch fire the way Utah State’s Darius Brown did on Tuesday, it could be all it takes for a Bulldog victory. Contesting shots and hitting a couple more will be crucial. 

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