The San Diego State Aztecs and Fresno State Bulldogs faced off for the 115th time on Tuesday evening at 8pm PST / 11pm EST. It was their second match this season. The Aztecs lost again, and this time it wasn’t even close.
A final score of 79-61 sadly showed that the struggling Aztecs had to work to narrowly escape a 20-point game-ending deficit. It was a one-possession battle until the seven-minute mark of the first half. From there, the Bulldogs broke it open with a combo of rapid-fire steals and Aztec offensive charge calls, and found themselves up by 13. The Aztecs couldn’t answer and the Bulldogs entered halftime with an eleven-point lead.
The Aztecs had four players with double digits including Matt Mitchell, Devin Watson, Jeremy Hemsley and Malik Pope. Pope ended the match with a double-double on 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Aztecs had an embarrassing 16 turnovers due to poor ball handling. During the first half the Aztecs also received four offensive charge calls. It was also clear that Steve Fisher’s elite defensive strategy is not a part of Coach Brian Dutcher’s current repertoire.
This was the sloppiest showing by the San Diego State Aztecs in many years.
The Bulldogs handily capitalized on the disjointed Aztecs. Jaron Hopkins scored 20 points and had five assists. Nate Grimes had 15 points off the bench for Fresno State in the 115th meeting.
Fresno State (17-8, 7-5 Mountain West) has won five of the last six games in the series, including a 77-73 victory on Jan. 17.
Bryson Williams added 12 points for the Bulldogs, who as a team shot 53 percent. The Aztecs (13-9, 5-6) finished with those 16 miscues, leading to 21 points, and were without team captain Trey Kell who is still nursing an ankle injury.
Jalen McDaniels, Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel– all freshmen- combined to play 75 minutes, scoring a combined 22 points and 14 boards.
Notable: on the East Coast, this red-eye game tipped off at 11:10pm, and ended at 1:14am- making it near impossible to watch live.
San Diego State travels to Reno to face conference-leading Nevada on Saturday at 5 p.m. PT. The game will be televised by ESPN2.