Mitchell hurt as Aztecs lose to Utah State 57-45

Credit: Go Aztecs

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 Dee Glen Smith Spectrum- Logan, Utah

The San Diego State Aztecs dropped the first game of the series to the Utah State Aggies in a defensive battle, 57-45.

While the Aztecs lost the game, that is likely not the biggest loss of the night for SDSU.

Senior forward Matt Mitchell suffered a knee injury late in the second half that forced him to leave the game in a ton of discomfort. San Diego State head coach Brian Dutcher said that doctors saw Mitchell after the game and that he did not have a diagnosis of the injury.

In Mitchell’s 26 minutes before getting hurt, he totaled 10 points and two rebounds. Mitchell also turned the ball over five times, which was a big problem for the Aztecs against Utah State.

Looking forward, it is unlikely that Mitchell will play in the second game versus Utah State, and it is unknown how long Mitchell will be out for. In the meantime, the Aztecs will need to find a way to replace Mitchell’s production offensively, as he leads the team with nearly 16 points per game.

Even before Mitchell injured his knee, San Diego State did not execute and fluttered on offense. The Aztecs only scored 45 points Thursday, which did not put themselves in a spot to win despite another impressive performance on defense.

The Aztecs turned the ball over a staggering 16 times, which included several offensive fouls away from the ball.

San Diego State also failed to get quality shots consistently, which was a product of not getting the ball inside. Utah State center Neemias Queta is a force down low, but the Aztecs’ inability to move the ball and space the defense became problematic. In addition, SDSU only shot nine free throws, which was largely in part because the ball rarely got into the paint.

The low score is not just a product of San Diego State struggling to score. The Utah State defense deserved a lot of credit Thursday, which is nothing new for them this year.

According to KenPom’s 2021 College Basketball ratings, Utah State boasts the nation’s seventh-best defense according to adjusted defensive efficiency. A large part of that is because Utah State is one of the tallest teams in America and can match with anyone.

It will be a quick turnaround for both teams, as they will face each other again in Logan on Saturday. That likely benefits Utah State, given Mitchell’s status and the altitude adjustment for San Diego State. Tip-off for the game will be at 10:30 a.m. PT.

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