Senior Trey Kell returned from an ankle injury for the game, and joined the starting lineup, providing needed support. It was, however, Nolan Narain and Jordan Schakel who stepped up and helped drive a home win.
This season, the struggling Aztecs are in eighth place out of eleven, and one of the many reasons for this has been poor bench production.
In fact, during the last two games against Fresno State and Nevada, the Aztecs bench only contributed a combined total of 10 points.
But something changed radically during this game, and the Aztecs bench dug deep to outshoot the Cowboys bench 40-1. With that, Aztecs fans get another piece of evidence that there’s more to this team than meets the eye.
Narain and Schakel both had career scoring highs- before the first half even ended. Their previous highs had been eight and 10 points, respectively. Schakel averaged 3.4 points and Narain just 2.4.
“They stepped up and neither one of them plays with any fear at all,” Aztecs head coach Brian Dutcher said. “It was great to have that kind of production off the bench.”
Redshirt freshman Jalen McDaniels scored 16 points.
Senior Malik Pope contributed 10 and passed 1,000 points in his career, becoming the 33rd Aztec ever to do so.
SDSU shot 53.2 percent (33 of 62) extending to 64 its streak of winning games when it made 50 percent or more of its shots.
Wyoming was held to 41-percent shooting after struggling in the previous two games with second-half defense.
The Aztecs (14-10, 6-7) had their 10th win in 12 home games this season and upped their Mountain West home record to 5-1. Wyoming (16-10, 7-6) lost a third-straight conference game.
Desperate to win after losing five of the last seven conference games, Dutcher went to the bench early while asking his team to step it up bigtime against the quick-transition Cowboys offense.
“It was great to have Trey Kell back,” Dutcher said. “It’s just the steadiness, the calming influence on the floor. … He plays at a different pace than the young kids. And we missed that pace in close games.”
The Aztecs play UNLV at Viejas Arena on Saturday, February 17th, at 1pm PST.