Jaedon LeDee made his case for MWC PoY on the court Thursday afternoon

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

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While Mountain West media and fans debated on social media over the past several days about the coaches’ vote for the player of the year that earned Utah State center Great Osobor the honor, Jaedon LeDee did not let it keep him from continuing to work. 

On Tuesday afternoon in Las Vegas, LeDee made his case on the court with an impressive 34-pt, 16-reb performance in SDSU’s overtime win over UNLV. LeDee joined Purdue’s Zach Edey (the frontrunner for National Player of the Year) as the only players with multiple 30-pt, 15-reb games this season. 

LeDee made 11 of 21 attempts in 39 minutes despite double and triple-teamed in the paint as soon as he touched the ball. LeDee’s first free throw attempts of the game did not come until about 18 minutes into the game, the first by an Aztec up to that point. 

By the time the game ended, LeDee drew 17 foul calls and shot 18 free throws (making 11). 

“I feel like I probably – I get fouled probably every time I touch the ball, but those 17 times they called it,” LeDee said postgame. “I’m just glad we capitalized on the free throws and capitalized on the opportunity when we got fouled.”

After the Aztecs blew a double-digit lead in regulation and fell behind in overtime, LeDee scored the final seven points for the Aztecs and carried them to victory.  

Down one with 23 seconds remaining, head coach Brian Dutcher put the game in LeDee’s hands at the top of the key. LeDee faced up Rob Whaley Jr, drove to his right, and banked in a contested jump hook over the outstretched hands of the defender. 

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

“Sometimes coaching is easy,” said Dutcher. “I ran the last play, give it to your best player and let him make a play, and that’s what Jaedon did at the elbow sweep.”

LeDee praised his coaches and teammates for having confidence in him to put the ball in his hands. 

“I just got to my spot and tried to shoot a shot I shot a million times,” he added.  

LeDee made two free throws after his final rebound of the game to secure the Aztecs spot into the semifinals. Waiting for him on Friday night, none other than Great Osobor. 

A Game of Runs

There are a dozen cliches any basketball coach, player, or commentator uses to describe the outcome of a basketball game. 

It’s a game of runs. 

That play changed the momentum. 

If you watched the Rebels and Aztecs battle on Thursday, you would be hard-pressed not to buy into those two. Although the Aztecs prevailed, it was far from a coast-to-coast victory. 

For the first 19 minutes of the game, the Aztecs clanked shots from every spot on the court. 

Layup. Miss. 

Mid-range jumper. Miss. 

Three-pointer. Miss. All eight times. 

Overall, they missed 24 of their first 32 shots, a putrid 25% effectiveness.

Just nine days ago, in the same arena and against the same opponent, the Aztecs stunk it up for the entire 40 minutes, shooting only 28% overall and an even worse 23% from inside the arc. 

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70 misses on 96 shots in the last 59 minutes against the stout UNLV defense. All signs pointed to another poor 20 minutes of offense and an early flight back to San Diego. 

Lamont Butler hit two free throws with 59 seconds left in the half that broke an 11-1 UNLV run after the game was tied at 16. After committing a shot clock violation with 1.6 seconds remaining in the half, the Aztecs stared at a 27-19 deficit heading into the break. 

Despite calling a timeout to set up a play, the Rebels’ Keylan Boone (17pts, 8 rebs)  threw an errant inbounds pass towards halfcourt and straight into the hands of Darrion Trammell. The Aztec caught the pass and, in one motion, shot up a one-legged triple that found the bottom of the net. 


“Finally, I couldn’t buy a basket,” said Trammell postgame when asked about the emotions of that shot heading into halftime. “I missed a lot of layups. As a team, we missed a lot of layups. I missed a lot of shots. That was just great momentum. We talked about it going into half. We were kind of down, and we talked about it as a team. That was something positive. We just highlighted that, and we went out in the second half with great energy. I mean, it showed.”

Dutcher added postgame that the coaches joked with the team at halftime that the shot finally got the lid off the basket and tried to use it to uplift the team.

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

“That’s such a huge momentum change,” Dutcher explained. “We tried to get them fired up a little bit more. We tried to get their energy up that that was such an important shot and that can turn the tide of a game, and maybe it did.”

The Aztecs, fueled by a 5-0 run to end the half and the gift of the last second basket, began the second half on fire. 

They made 8 of their first 9 shots of the half on their way to a 41-34 lead, a 24-7 run since trailing 27-17. The 24 points came in less than seven minutes of game time after only scoring 17 points in the first 19 minutes of the game. 

After flirting with blowing the Rebels out in the second half, the Aztec offense reverted back to how they played the first 19 minutes. They missed six consecutive shots and 20 of their last 29 in the final 14 minutes of the game as they blew a ten-point lead and required LeDee’s heroics to survive and advance. 

A game of runs, they say. Feels more like a roller coaster. 


From the first interview Dutcher gave this season, rebounding was stressed as the primary focus of the team. Losing outstanding rebounders Nathan Mensah, Aguek Arop and Keshad Johnson from last year’s national runner-up team, Dutcher knew that harping on the topic would be required for his new-look frontcourt. 

For at least the first of hopefully many elimination games for the Aztecs, they answered the bell in the department. 

SDSU dominated the rebounding battle 50 to 31 overall and 25 to 9 on the offensive end. In turn, they won the second chance points advantage, 20 to 8.

Dutcher attributed the dominance on the boards to the absence of UNLV’s Kaleb Boone (played one minute before departing due to a pre-existing ankle injury), but also credited his team with the performance on the glass.

“We took a major step forward on (rebounding) when the Boone brother didn’t play because he is a sensational rebounder,” said Dutcher postgame. “(Rebounding) was the key to the game. That was the key we put up in the locker room, and I thought that was the key to the game.”

LeDee’s 16 led the Aztecs, while Jay Pal added nine. Both Pal and Micah Parrish added four offensive rebounds each. 

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