The 13th-ranked SDSU Men’s Basketball team ended their 2019 non-conference schedule undefeated for the first time in nine seasons.
On Dec 28th, the Aztecs tipped off against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Mustangs, and after eighteen minutes into the game, they were trailing 23-22. The sold-out crowd at Viejas Arena were dumbfounded, but after a pivotal defensive steal by Yanni Wetzell and a breakaway lay-up, the Aztecs took the lead.
In the first half’s final minute, sixth man Matt Mitchell followed up a missed three-pointer by Malachi Flynn with a put-back slam dunk that ignited the crowd and galvanized the Aztecs attack just before half-time. SDSU displayed its resiliency, after only making one of their first eleven three-point attempts; they shot from the paint and closed the half with a 9-0 run to go up 31-23.
The Aztecs came out after an underwhelming first half and took the game over.
Five minutes into the first half, the Aztecs increased their lead to 45-30 over the Mustangs. Coach Dutcher began to sub in some of the younger players who don’t always see minutes on the floor. Joel Mensah, Trey Pulliam, and Adam Seiko earned valuable experience and combined for fifteen points off of the bench. The Aztecs cruised to 73-57 victory to earn their 13th win on the season. Coach Dutcher spoke about what this win means to him, “Our goal was to have an undefeated December, and we did that, I take great pleasure in that we’re going into the New Year as one of the three undefeated teams left in the country.” Since Dutcher’s quote, Liberty University lost to LSU, which leaves SDSU and Auburn as the only two undefeated teams in Division 1 college basketball.
At 12:00 pm on Wednesday, the Aztecs will resume Mountain West conference play against Fresno State at Viejas Arena.
The Fresno State Bulldogs are coached by former SDSU assistant Justin Hutson and former Aztecs’ player Tim Shelton. The Bulldogs are off to a tough start with a 5-9 record on the season. Fresno does not have any significant wins on the season but lost in double overtime to UNLV and also lost to 25th ranked Utah St. in overtime. San Diego State will be facing a Fresno State team that is desperate to create some positive momentum at the start of 2020. The Aztecs will need to stay focused and execute their game plan to earn their 14th win on the season.
Aztecs guard Jordan Schakel, who has stepped into a veteran role on the squad, shared his opinions on where SDSU can improve going into the New Year ’s Day contest, “I’d say rebounding, post defense, and our shadow (defensive sets). We want to keep getting better at those. That wears teams down, so we have to keep on refining it and making it as good as possible.” San Diego State will follow their game on Wednesday with an away game at Utah St, which is the first of two clashes between the two teams currently leading the Mountain West Conference.