SDSU takes on UC San Diego

Demarshay Johnson dunks in the opener. (Don De Mars/EVT)

Lamont Butler drives to the rim against UCSD last season. (Don De Mars/EVT)

The Aztecs will face the Tritons of UC San Diego on Friday night. UC San Diego is 4-3 this season.

Their most recent game was an 83-56 loss against Washington. The same Washington team that took the Aztecs to overtime. 

General observations

The Tritons play a slow pace; They rank 280th in possessions per game. They play a very short bench, ranking 354th out of 362 teams in terms of how many minutes their bench players get. So that means 353 teams use their bench players more frequently than UC San Diego. The Aztecs are one of those teams, as they rank 327th. Lastly, the Tritons are about average across the board in terms of size. At the extremes, they have a 5’9” guard and a 7’0” center, but neither play very many minutes. 

How to guard UC San Diego

The Tritons rank 200th in offense, according to KenPom. They take care of the ball, but scoring isn’t their strength. Their three-point percentage, outside of an onslaught against Division 3 La Verne, has been bad. So, packing the paint should be something the Aztecs emphasize. What they are good at is running off-ball cuts out of their pick and rolls, so the Aztecs will need to know their help assignments. 

How to attack UC San Diego

The Tritons have been worse defensively than they have been offensively. For starters, they give up a lot of offensive rebounds. Jaedon LeDee and crew should be able to take advantage of that. 

Opponents have been throwing more and more double teams at LeDee in the post in order to slow him down. The Tritons will likely do the same. The Tritons’ three-point defense has been solid this season, but the Aztecs have a chance to change that if LeDee can make the correct passes out of double teams. 

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Players to watch

Bryce Pope, #4, 19 points, 4.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists. 

Pope is the star of this Tritons team. He is the leading scorer by a lot, and he rarely ever comes off the floor. Expect Lamont Butler to draw this assignment with the hope of making someone else beat the Aztecs. 

J’Raan Brooks, #33, 6.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 0.6 assists. 

Brooks is the starting center for the Tritons, so he will spend most of his time guarding LeDee. That is a potential mismatch as Brooks is a foul-prone player, and LeDee feasts on fouls. 

Francis Nwaokorie, #35, 14.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists. 

Nwaokorie is shooting 28.9% from deep this season but is a career 38% shooter. If he has a big game from behind the arc, it could make things interesting. 

X-Factor: 3-point shooting

The Tritons are due for a “correction to the mean” type of game from behind the arc. If that happens, it could mean trouble. Conversely, if the Aztecs can break the defense and hit their shots, it could be a blowout. 

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