Viejas Arena- San Diego, California
After a couple of tough losses to Utah State, the Aztecs have found their stride with a three-game winning streak.
The game was decided after the first period of play. The 63-point scored by SDSU were more than Wyoming would score all game. In fact, that 63 point total makes the highest point total by a team in the first period in Mountain West Conference history.
Jordan Schakel once again led this offensive explosion. It’s no surprise that SDSU has started winning as Schakel returned to his elite scoring form. In the first half, he scored 14 points, mainly coming from his three 3-pointers. His star first-period play didn’t only come from his ability to score. He also had five rebounds, three assists, and a steal. All while not fouling or turning over the ball a single time.
What is becoming a theme in this winning streak is the desire to improve. When asked how he and the team could improve, Schakel said, “We can definitely build off this and improve. We turned the ball over too much in the second half. We have to continue to be aggressive and see the right plays.”
The next highlight player was Terrell Gomez. He was flawless from deep shooting 4-4 and went down low to get a bucket from the paint. This was a huge contribution to the team’s 52% from beyond the arc. This was a unique performance compared to some of Gomez’s recent games. Typically, when he is feeling his shot, like in this game, he will take shots in a lot greater volume. Previous games with him making at least four 3-pointers saw him with 3pt percentages of .556, .571, and .556. All those percentages would indicate a good shooting performance from deep. This performance showed a mature and dominant version of Gomez that can help keep the Aztecs hot.
This game did see a familiar face return to the starting five. Matt Mitchell II resumed his role as a starter and generally dominant player for the Aztecs. After hyperextending his knee against Utah State, he made his return against Air Force on Sunday. In that game, his minutes were monitored closely. In this game coach, Brian Dutcher stretched him out a little bit longer while still using SDSUs depth to cover him. His 20 minutes of playing time is a lot considering Schakel was the only player with more than 22 minutes for the Aztecs. In his 20 minutes, he racked up 13 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Even with a big win and dominant first half, Dutcher wanted to focus on how to improve in the second half. Wyoming did outscore SDSU 27-24, and it wasn’t from all from bench players and walk-ons getting time. Schakel was right when talking about limiting the turnovers. In the first half, SDSU only had 2 turnovers. Then they had 12 in the second half. Then they stopped sharing the ball as their assists dropped by 10 from the first half to the second.
The last standout player the rising freshman Lamont Butler. He is a symbol of SDSU’s game today. In the first half, he was a lights-out player. Then in the second half, he started to struggle. In the first half, he had 12 points, five assists, and as a whole, shot 5-7 in the first period. In the second period, he only had one point, three assists, and had four turnovers.
On Saturday, SDSU and Wyoming will square off again at 7 pm.