Bradley’s bounce back performance leads Aztecs over Aggies

Credit: Aztecs Athletics

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The #25 San Diego State men’s basketball team took on the Utah State Aggies for the second time this season, a game the Aztecs needed to win to stay in first place in the Mountain West Conference. This time they played in Logan, Ut., where the Aztecs have a 4-5 record, and as a top 25 team, they are 2-0.

After getting a much-needed quad one win (a win at home versus a team in the RPI top 30) against the Boise State Broncos last Friday, the Red and Black picked up another quad one win in a nail-biter 63-61 victory behind an 18-point performance from Matt Bradley.

Taylor Funk, one of the four Utah State starters averaging double-digit points, nailed a three to get the game off and running.

Both teams started trading points up until the 13:04 mark, then Darrion Trammell and Micah Parrish both knocked down wide-open threes to give the Aztecs a 14-13 lead.

From the start of Trammell’s made three, the Red and Black went on a 12-0 run until the Aggies’ leading scorer Steven Ashworth made a lay-up to end it. Utah State was down by five. 

At the 6:49 mark, a lengthy delay occurred after an altercation between Trammell and Funk, then the Aggies head coach Ryan Odom got frustrated with the referees and was trying to push through his own staff, holding him back.

The pause resulted in Trammell and Utah State’s Connor Gillis and Connor Odom getting ejected while Funk got a technical foul.

After the delay, both teams were fouling heavily and were at the free-throw line six times. SDSU and Utah State combined for eight points on 12 attempts from the charity stripe during the time from the delay until the 5:25 mark.

At the 3:20 mark, the Aztecs went on a 7-0 run to take their biggest lead of the game, 40-25. The Red and Black continued to command the lead and ended the first half up 44-28.

After the Aztecs unsuccessfully gathered offensive rebounds the last time they were in Utah State, they got nine in the first half and were leading 24 to 17 on the glass overall.

Credit: NCAA Logos

Bradley led the way for the Red and Black with 12 points and was perfect from the field in the first half, bouncing back after a poor three-point performance in their last match-up. Parrish was electric off the bench with 10 of the Aztecs’ 18 bench points and going four for six from the field.

No Aggie made it into double-digits in the first half, but Ashworth led the way with nine points on three-for-five shooting.

The Aggies started the second half with a 6-0 run, but when head coach Brian Dutcher decided to put in Parrish, Jaedon LeDee, and Aguek Arop, it helped stop the run. LeDee made a lay-up to end the Aggies’ run, and the Aztecs led 46-34.

Both teams started trading points until the 12:13 mark of the second half, when the Aggies started to get momentum. Utah State went on a 8-0 run to cut the Aztecs’ lead to five.

Bradley ended the Aggies’ momentum with a contested jumper with the shot clock winding down, and the score was 58-51 SDSU.

At the 4:37 mark, Ashworth’s three laid a spark for Utah State, it turned into a flame, and the Aztecs had trouble blowing it out. The Aggies went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to one with a minute remaining.

With 10.2 seconds remaining, Utah State had the ball, and Max Shulga had a shot to give the Aggies the lead, he missed, and the Aztecs got the defensive rebound.

Keshad Johnson was fouled by Dan Akin, he went one for two from the free throw line, and then Utah State claimed possession with 1.5 seconds.

The Aggies weren’t able to execute, SDSU survived and won 63-61 to get their first victory in Utah State since January 4, 2020.

“We played hard, we competed hard,” Dutcher said postgame. “When two teams are playing for first place, it brings everything.”

Bradley finished the game with 18 points and went seven for ten from the field, while Ledee had a double-double, scoring 14 points and getting ten rebounds.

Ashworth was a huge reason for the Aggies almost comeback, as he finished with 18 points and went five for 11 from the field.

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Both teams have tall teams, and rebounding was the key focus going into the game. The Aztecs won on the glass 42 to 34.

The bench produced big in the end for SDSU with 30 points, while Utah State had nine points from their bench.

“Our bench with Micah and Jaedon were great,” Dutcher said postgame. “AG (Aguek Arop) always gives us great minutes energy-wise.”

TheAztecs moved to 19-5 overall and 10-2 in the conference to stay in first place in the Mountain West.

The Aztecs head back to Viejas Arena to take on the UNLV Runnin Rebels for the second time this season on Saturday, Feb.11, at 1 PM PST.

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