Aztecs storm back to defeat Colorado State 71-55

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT News

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Credit: Don De Mars/EVT News

Viejas Arena – San Diego State University

The San Diego State Aztecs entered Tuesday night as winners of 33 straight home games immediately following a loss. That streak would remain intact, as SDSU has now won 34 straight at home following a loss. The Aztecs remain one of 10 undefeated teams in the country at home.

“I told the team after we lost at their place that they got off to a great start,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “I’m so smart that I said ‘everybody has a game plan until you get punched in the mouth, so let’s go punch them in the mouth.” We looked up and they punched us in the mouth. We were down again. So we had to take a punch and learn to fight back.”

SDSU improved to 19-6 on the year and 8-4 in Mountain West play. The Rams fell to 19-6 and 7-5 in conference play.

This game was a tail of two halves. CSU controlled the first half, while SDSU dominated the second. SDSU won the second half 40-11, propelling them to a massive victory.

The Rams could not have started the game any better. They drained five of their first six shots, including 4-4 from beyond the arc. Josiah Strong nailed in all three of his triples to start out the game with a quick nine points.

Credit: Don De Mars/EVT News

SDSU started out going 1-6 from the field, and the only good thing to come their way in the first four minutes was Jaedon LeDee’s ability to draw three fouls. CSU led 14-2 very early in the contest.

The Aztecs already had a comeback on their hands.

Colorado State kept shooting the ball well. They regained control and increased their lead back to double digits. CSU shot over 60% from the field and three-point range with 7:48 remaining in the first half.

It seemed as if every time SDSU would inch closer, CSU responded by scoring two straight baskets. Nique Clifford and Patrick Cartier scored with ease, combining for 20 of the Rams’ 44 points in the first half. Strong added 11 points as well.

It was just a very frustrating first half by the Aztecs. CSU extended their lead back to 14 as SDSU finished the half scoreless in the final three minutes. LeDee, Miles Heide, and even Demarshay Johnson Jr. all had two fouls. LeDee did not play the final nine minutes of the first half, and played only 7:23 total minutes in the half.

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The Rams led 44-30 at the break. You don’t see the Aztecs allow 40 points in a half at Viejas Arena quite often. The three-point shooting and defense needed to improve if the Aztecs wanted to make this a game again.

It certainly did.

SDSU started the second half much better than the first. They began with a 10-5 run as LeDee’s free throw after the made basket brought them back within double digits, 49-40.

LeDee scored a quick 14 points to start the second half to put his total at 19.

You could say he turned it up a notch after sitting for most of the first half due to foul trouble.

“You can see how valuable he is,” Dutcher said about LeDee. “He didn’t come out in the second half and he was the difference in the game. He was hard to guard in (the paint), he fouled two of their bigs out, and he is just a dynamic offensive player and we are doing a better job finding him.”

Viejas Arena was extremely loud as the Aztecs cut the lead to four, 50-46.

SDSU kept pushing. They didn’t quit.

Jay Pal gave the Aztecs their first lead since 2-0 early in the contest. A Micah Parrish layup then put them up 57-54 with just under eight minutes remaining. CSU was one for their last 11 in field goal attempts to this point.

Who knew that they would score just one more point the rest of the way.

What a turn of events in this game. The Aztecs flat-out dominated the second half by going on a 40-11 run. The Aztecs’ defense was playing as best as any unit in the nation as the Rams’ looked lost out there.

After scoring 44 first-half points, the Rams scored just 11 second-half points on 3-25 shooting. The Aztecs huge second half propelled them to their biggest win of the season to date.

After the game, LeDee spoke about what he was thinking while sitting on the bench with two fouls.

“I knew my teammates had me,” LeDee said. I have all the faith in the world in them. I knew they were going to give it their all and keep us in the game.

Up next: The Aztecs host New Mexico Friday night at 7:00 pm.

News & Stats

  • Jaedon LeDee – 26 points, 6 rebounds
  • Lamont Butler – 11 points, 10 rebounds
  • Darrion Trammell – 11 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds
  • Jay Pal – 3 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks
  • SDSU finished 18-25 from the free-throw line and shot 44.4% from the field

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