San Diego State Aztecs vs. Fresno State Bulldogs game preview

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Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

The San Diego State Aztecs men’s basketball team is coming off one of the bigger wins of the entire 2023-24 college basketball season.

The Aztecs took down the No. 13 Gonzaga Bulldogs in Spokane and accomplished something that hasn’t been done in quite some time. Gonzaga was 88-1 at home over the past five seasons. Their only other loss came to Loyola Marymount last season, which snapped their 76-game winning streak at The Kennel.

Interestingly enough, SDSU will take on another Bulldogs’ squad this Wednesday night at Viejas Arena. Fresno State is (7-6) on the season, and they are coming off a 4-point win over the University of San Diego 71-67.

The Aztecs are now (11-2) on the season and have built quite the resume heading into the new year. However, sparking major conversation and disappointment among fans, SDSU is not in the AP Top 25 in the latest rankings. The Mountain West Conference played very well in non-conference games this season. CSU, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah State, and SDSU all have at least 11 wins to date. Nevada currently has the most wins in conference. The Wolf Pack have started (13-1) and have quality wins over Washington and TCU.

SDSU has quality wins over No. 13 Gonzaga, Washington, Saint Mary’s, and Stanford. Speaking of the Cardinal, they defeated No. 4 Arizona on Sunday by 18 points at home.

The Aztecs’ two losses were in tough environments at BYU and Grand Canyon. BYU (12-1) is currently ranked 12th in the nation. GCU is also 12-1 on the campaign, with their only quality win coming against San Diego State, who, at the time, was ranked 25th.

SDSU has a tough schedule ahead as the Mountain West is proving to be a rising conference.

Getting To Know The Bulldogs

Fresno State has struggled to begin the campaign. Picked to finish eighth in the preseason poll, Fresno is just a game over .500 at 7-6. Their biggest win of the season came on a neutral court against New Mexico State.

Credit: Don De Mars/ EVT Sports

Playing only three true road games, Fresno is (1-2) away from home. Their previous road games before beating USD saw them lose by a combined score of 49 points to BYU and San Francisco.

The Bulldogs have just three elite scoring threats, and they are all in the backcourt. Isaiah Hill leads the squad, averaging 13.3 points per game, and also averages 6.0 assists per game (21st in the nation). Hill has scored in double digits in all but two games this season. Xavier DuSell is second on the team, averaging 10.2 points on 42% shooting. DuSell has eight games scoring in double digits, with his season-high of 19 coming on two occasions. Donovan Yap Jr. is third on the team, averaging 9.3 points. His season-high of 23 points came against Morgan State in an 87-68 blowout win.

Those three guards will need to be on top of their game if they want to upset the Aztecs on the road. Lamont Butler, Micah Parrish, and Reese Waters are more than capable of locking them up and making sure at least one isn’t a factor in the scoring.

The two big men for the Bulldogs are both 6-foot-11 with rebounding skills. The Bulldogs only average 34.2 rebounds per game, with Eduardo Andre and Enoch Boakye boarding 14.8 combined. SDSU has not been a very good rebounding team either, as they are at 38.1 rebounds per game. Jaedon LeDee, Elijah Saunder, and Miles Heide have their work cut out for them in this matchup.

Aztecs To Keep An Eye On Against Fresno State

Jaedon LeDee – LeDee continued his monster season with a 20-point outing against Gonzaga in 33 minutes of action. He also notched seven boards. The rising star is now averaging 21.5 points per game, which is 9th in the nation. He also averages 9.2 rebounds (42nd) and shoots 56.1% (tied-65th) from the floor. The forward has scored in double digits in every game he has played in this season.

Miles Byrd – Another player to keep an eye on is Miles Byrd. The backup guard played in his biggest game in his young career last time out against Gonzaga. Byrd displayed toughness and hustle during every second of his time out there on the court. In 23 minutes of action, Byrd finished with nine points on (4-8) shooting and also had four rebounds and one steal. Head coach Brian Dutcher kept him in the game late to finish off as Lamont Butler had four fouls.

“Byrd came in tonight and finally showed what he is capable of and made some spectacular plays,” Dutcher said postgame after the win at The Kennel.

Darrion Trammell – Trammell has done wonders off the bench for Dutcher and the Aztecs this season. He scored 17 in the win against Gonzaga which was his season high. Trammell had 15 points at the half, as the Bulldogs had nothing in their notes to contain him. Trammell is averaging 7.8 points per game and adds 2.5 assists per game as well.

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The Transfers

Waters and Jay Pal have been quite the revelation for the Aztecs this year. The two transfers play crucial minutes as Waters is in the starting lineup, and Pal comes off the bench, averaging 13.2 minutes per game.

Starting with Waters, the former USC and Pac-12 Sixth Man of the Year winner can do it all. Waters is averaging 14.3 points per game on 46.2% shooting. He adds 4.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 steals per game as well. Waters ended with a game-high 22 points in the massive win over Gonzaga. He shot 72% from the floor and was a huge reason for their success late in the game.

Pal finished with only four points in the win over Gonzaga but had his season-high in minutes (26). The only other game where he had more than 18 minutes played was against UC Irvine, as LeDee missed the action due to an injury.

More Stats & Stuff

  • SDSU averages 77.7 points per game and allows 66.9 per game. Fresno averages 71.5 points and allows 72.2 per game.
  • The Bulldogs shoot 48.3% from the floor as a team compared to the Aztecs at 44.3%.
  • SDSU is (20-11) since 1999 against Fresno State. They have won eight straight matchups.
  • Their last meeting ended in a low-scoring 45-43 affair in Fresno.

Conference play begins, and the Aztecs are excited to begin another road to glory. You can catch the game on FS1. The game begins at 7:30 pm PT.

Looking ahead: UNLV follows again at home this Saturday, January 6, at 1:00 pm PT. That matchup will be televised on CBS.

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