Utah State holds on to defeat San Diego State 68-63

Credit: Don De Mras/ EVT Sports

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(Don De Mars/EVT)

The San Diego State Aztecs and Utah State Aggies entered Tuesday night with first place in the Mountain West on the line. The Aggies got the job done in a very close battle in Logan.

Aggies’ head coach Danny Sprinkle should be a nominee for NCAA Coach of the Year and certainly will be the Mountain West Coach of the Year when the season is all said and done.

Utah State improved to 22-5 on the season and 10-4 in conference play. SDSU fell to 20-7 on the season and 9-5 in the MW. The Aggies lead the Aztecs by one game in the conference standings. SDSU will have an uphill climb to become regular season champs.

If you tuned in for this conference matchup, then you witnessed some high-level physicality on both sides. You could see how badly the players on both squads wanted to win this game.

The Aztecs struggled to score to begin play. If you had Miles Heide scoring the first basket for the Aztecs in the game on your bingo card, then you had the early advantage.

Coach Brian Dutcher replaced both Jay Pal and Jaedon LeDee early in the game with Elijah Saunders and Heide as SDSU went down 6-0 to start. However, the Aztecs stormed back quickly.

SDSU gained the lead 11-10 with just under 11 minutes remaining with a Miles Byrd Alley-oop finish.

Right after that moment, LeDee started to feel it. LeDee drained three straight midrange shots to keep SDSU on top.

The Aggies didn’t let the Aztecs take control. They went on their second 6-0 run of the game to get back on top and lead 31-26 at the break. SDSU didn’t score a FG in the final three minutes of the half.

The game was extremely low-scoring due to the high-level defense being played on both sides. The Aggies managed to shoot 50% from the field but turned the ball over five times.

Credit: Utah State Basketball

LeDee led the Aztecs with eight points at the break. Darrion Trammell added six on 3-4 shooting. Darius Brown II had 12 points, while Great Osobor ended with four points, five assists, and four rebounds at the half for the Aggies.

The Aztecs knew they needed to shoot the ball better in the second half if they wanted to come out on top. Going 1-9 from beyond the arc won’t cut it on the road in the Mountain West.

Utah State started the second half with a 5-point possession as Brown II nailed in yet another triple, and Pal fouled on the rebound attempt, resulting in another possession for the Aggies.

The Aggies saw their lead reach 10 points with 18 minutes remaining in the contest. They continued to ride their momentum for a majority of the second half. Every time the Aztecs tried to inch closer, Utah State regained control. Brown II drilled his fourth three of the game to put them back up 10 as Dutcher proceeded to call a timeout. SDSU was one of their last nine from the field.

San Diego State had just 11:36 remaining to crawl back into the game.

Crawling is exactly what they did. It didn’t happen fast, but the Aztecs scratched and clawed their way back into the game with their defense. The Aggies turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, and LeDee hit a mid-range shot with three defenders in his face to bring the Aztecs back to within just one point, 59-58.

LeDee’s scoring total reached 21 points with 4:37 remaining in the game.

Just as it seemed the Aztecs would gain the lead once again, Brown II made his fifth three-pointer of the game. For a guy that shoots below average, Brown II turned it up when the moment mattered.

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The Aztecs ran out of time. Brown II and Osobor led the Aggies to a strong win over their rivals at home. Brown II ended the game with 23 points on 813 shooting. Osobor finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

The next game for SDSU will be on the road at Fresno State this Saturday, February 24, at 7:00 pm.

News & Stats

  • LeDee ended with 23 points and six rebounds
  • Reese Waters had 11 points, three assists, and three rebounds
  • Miles Byrd with 10 points, two steals, and three rebounds
  • Butler was held scoreless but added two steals and two rebounds
  • SDSU shot 3-19 from deep. 42.9% from the floor.

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