First look at SDSU’s non-conference opponent BYU

Credit: BYU Athletics

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Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

Name of the University: Brigham Young University

Conference: West Coast Conference

Date of the game: Viejas Arena on Friday, Nov. 11.

All-Time Series Record: The Aztecs are 25-50 overall against the Cougars.

The last meeting between the schools: Nov. 12, 2021, BYU defeated SDSU 66-60 in Provo, Utah.

The San Diego State basketball team released their non-conference schedule last week. SDSU’s second game of the season is against longtime rival Brigham Young University. This year’s game will be at Viejas Arena. The Aztecs are 17-19 in San Diego against the Cougars. 

The first match-up between the teams was in 1940. SDSU defeated BYU 49-45. Only nine universities have matched up more with the Aztecs than the Cougars. The 2022 contest will be the 76th meeting between the schools. UC Santa Barbara, Whittier College, and BYU are the only three schools not in the Mountain West that still rank in the top 10 of SDSU’s Most Played Series List. The best stretch of games for the Aztecs against the Cougars was from 2011 to 2019, when they won four straight, with three games settled by nine points or less and one 18-point blowout.

Credit: Nicole Noel/ EVT Sports

The Aztecs are looking for revenge in Viejas Arena. Two seasons ago, the Cougars defeated SDSU 72-62 in the venue, but these are different rosters and a more electrified atmosphere since fans were not permitted inside to watch due to Covid in 2020. 

The Cougars are losing eight scholarship players from last year’s team that was one win away from playing in Madison Square Garden in the 2022 NIT. Their biggest subtraction was leading scorer, point guard Alex Barcello, who averaged 16.8 points. Barcello declared for the NBA Draft in 2022 and played for the Toronto Raptors summer league team before signing an overseas contract with Kolossos Rhodes of the Greek Basket League.

With BYU coming off a 24-11 season and being fifth in the WCC, there will be immense pressure to be better in their conference next season. The Cougars were 9-6 last year and lost in the second round of the WCC tournament to the San Francisco Dons 75-63.

Returning player spotlight: Atiki Ally Atiki and Fousseyni Traore

BYU will have big-man forward Atiki Ally Atiki back this upcoming season. He had 24 blocks in 2021-2022. Ally Atiki stands at 6’10’’ and will be huge for the Cougars on defense, and an interesting match-up against Aztec forward Nathan Mensah, who also stands at 6’10. Mensah, who weighed his NBA options in the offseason before deciding to return to SDSU, had 18 points versus BYU last season, going six for seven from the field.

Another big defensive threat returning for the Cougars is forward Fousseyni Traore, who had 1.3 blocks per game and 17 steals last season. Traore will be a key all-around player for BYU in the wake of 10 players departing. 

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Incoming player spotlight: Rudi Williams

A big pick-up for BYU was Coastal Carolina transfer guard Rudi Williams, who averaged 14.7 points per game last season for the Chanticleers. Williams, who visited SDSU before deciding to head to Provo, will be filling Barcello’s shoes as a threat from distance. 

It will be interesting to see if Williams and Aztec shooting guard Matt Bradley will go up against each other. Bradley stands at 6’4’’ and Williams at 6’2’’, so the Aztec guard will have a slight height advantage when getting his shots up or when defending the Coastal Carolina transfer.

Bradley didn’t have the most impressive performance versus BYU last season, only scoring eight points and going four for 11 from the field and two missed three-pointers.

Bradley will need to step up from distance along with returning guard Adam Seiko, as both of them averaged just above .400 from the three-point line last season.

Most memorable game for the two teams

Credit: Ball is Life

One of the most memorable games between SDSU and BYU was on March 12, 2011.

The Aztecs defeated the Cougars 72-54 to win the MWC Championship.

After losing both regular season games to BYU that season, SDSU — behind stellar performances from former forward Billy White with 21 points and 12 rebounds and former forward Kawhi Leonard with 20 points and eight rebounds — delivered a crushing 18-point win to seal the 2011 Mountain West title.

Despite former Cougar guard Jimmer Fredette’s 30-point performance in the game, it was no match for the tenacious Aztecs to pull out a win versus the Cougars when it mattered the most.

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