With a perfect record, the SDSU Aztecs men’s basketball team is inspiring the City of San Diego.
The 2019-2020 SDSU Aztecs men’s basketball team added two more lopsided victories to their resume over the last week and remain undefeated at 17-0.
The Aztecs took down the Wyoming Cowboys 72-52 in a high-altitude matchup that San Diego State won with ease. Three days later, they beat Boise St. 83-65 at the sold-out Viejas Arena in front of a ravenous crowd that has embraced the potential for a run at the NCAA National Championship. “We wanted to come out of here with a W and make a statement with a good win, and that is what we did,” said senior-transfer KJ Feagin, who scored a career-high 23 points against Boise State.
The Aztecs’ consistency on defense is the foundation for their dominance this season. Coach Brian Dutcher’s team pressures their opponent to the point of exhaustion, fights hard for every loose ball, and takes pride in disrupting offensive game plans. Their dominance on the defensive side of the ball translates into contagious confidence that ferments in every facet of the Aztecs’ basketball program. Dutcher holds his team to a high standard and measures their success by their ability to grow and learn from one game to the next, regardless of the competition. After the win in Wyoming, Dutcher revealed his level of expectations on the boards.
“We did a better job rebounding in the second half, even though we only out-rebounded them by three. We have to keep rebounding if we’re going to be really elite defensively,” Dutcher told local media.
Malachi Flynn has asserted himself as the focal point of San Diego State’s success on both sides of the court. Flynn has developed a potent pick and roll tandem with Yanni Wetzell. He has also drained game-changing 3-pointers and attracts a ton of defensive attention, which creates open looks for his teammates. Senior big man Wetzell shared his opinion on his team’s success.
“I knew we were solid and going to have a good team. We’ve got some good pieces, but I didn’t exactly know how we were all going to mesh together so well so soon,” Wetzell said.
As the flawless Aztecs roll deeper into their schedule, each win contributes to their positive momentum and propagates San Diego State’s popularity in the college basketball world. Being ranked amongst the nation’s top 10 teams exponentially helps attract recruits, satisfies a thirsty fan base, and increases the overall relevance of basketball in San Diego County. Wetzell is relishing the atmosphere.
“When we came in for our last huddle, we had to take a moment and just look around and just appreciate what we built this year. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for to Aztec Nation and The Show. It’s incredible support. Once you get on the floor and you get going, the energy is contagious, and we feed off it. When the opposing team makes a run, the crowd kind of brings us back into it, so from that aspect, it’s awesome,” Wetzell said.
From the leading scorer to the latest fans to hop on the bandwagon, SDSU’s success is a team effort. San Diego’s once-proud but recently splintered sports community has been starving to represent a nationally-recognized championship contender. The Aztecs men’s basketball team is grateful to pick up the mantle and provide the citizens of San Diego a reason to hold their heads high.
“For San Diego, we are the pro basketball team, San Diego State. We get all the support, and we’re very thankful for that. It makes a difference in winning and losing, and we’re excited when this building is full, and I hope it will be that way for the rest of the year,” Dutcher told Bernie Wilson of the Associated Press.
Going forward, the Aztecs will head up to Fresno St. for their second game against their California conference rival on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m.
SDSU previously beat the Bulldogs 61-52 at home on Jan 1. Since losing to the Aztecs, Fresno State beat San Jose State at home 79-64 and lost at New Mexico 78-64. The Bulldogs play best at home, and their familiarity with San Diego State will test the seventh ranked Aztecs’ resiliency.
After their Fresno State matchup, SDSU will head home to play against the Nevada Wolfpack for their first meeting this season, at 5 p.m. on Jan. 18.
Aztecs fans are encouraged to wear red to the game, which has put many superstitious supporters on high alert after the team’s shaky record when adorned in their scarlet threads. After the Boise State game, Dutcher was asked if he believes in superstitions.
“If I took my shoes off, you would not want to smell my socks right now, I’ve got the same pair of socks on for about four or five games, got a few lucky pennies in my pocket. So, I’m not superstitious, but I’m superstitious,“ Dutcher told local media.