Dee Glen Smith Spectrum- Logan, Utah
SDSU is now on a three-game losing streak to Utah State, dating back to their loss in the Mountain West Conference Championship game last season.
Their other loss on Thursday was tough to swallow. The team looked outmatched at all times, and they lost their best player Matt Mitchell II. Before the game, Mitchell was diagnosed with a bone bruise and hyperextended knee that will keep him out for at least two weeks.
With no Mitchell and just one day to make a brand-new game plan, the odds looked bleak for SDSU. Someone needed to step up and help run the team. That player was Lamont Butler, who enjoyed a breakout game today. He finished the game with 13 points, 5 steals, and no personal fouls.
Butler showed hustle that was lacking on the Aztecs, and that caught the Aggies off guard. His 75% FG% came from being aggressive and making opportunities for himself. Two of his makes came off of fastbreaks when he stole the ball. Another one of his shots came after Neemias Queta had fouled out, and there was no big rim protector to swat him down.
Butler was able to get more minutes to help fill the void left by Mitchell. With Mitchell projected to be out for the next four games, Butler has a chance for some serious minutes, if not a starting role. The tandem of Adam Seiko and Trey Pulliam have struggled as the starting guards. If Butler can prove that this performance wasn’t a fluke, then he will be knocking at the door for a starting job.
After the game, Butler was asked how it feels to have such a big break out game. “It was great; I’ve been working so hard, so I knew I could do this. It was a good time to go out there and play my hardest and help the team,” Butler said.
The other highlight player to come off the bench was Terrell Gomez. Unlike Butler, this wasn’t a breakout game for Gomez. Before he transferred to SDSU, he was a scoring machine, and in a few games this season, he catches fire. The main problem for Gomez is hasn’t found much consistency. He was on fire for three games against Saint Mary’s and Colorado State. Then he was held to just six points combined in the two Nevada games and the first Utah State game.
This was one of the hot games when he made 4 of his 7 attempted 3-pointers and finished the game with 16 points.
When asked about the bench’s performance, coach Brian Dutcher said, “I hope we continue to get this kind of production off the bench, and we should. These guys are talented players, just waiting on opportunity.”
A final note for SDSU is their struggles with fouls this game. Four different players finished the game with four fouls in a physical game down low that the foul trouble hurt availability for some of the big men. Another one of the players to see less time was Nathan Mensah. The altitude got to him, and it showed in the game when he looked quite a bit slower.