Viejas Arena was packed to the brim, with the students dressed up in white short sleeve shirts and black ties. They loudly jumped in unison hurling chants and heckling BYU and their star player Jimmer Fredette. BYU brought the crowd out back in those days and made the game an event.
Yesterday was not the same environment as those of days past, however, it was a great crowd that showed up three days before Christmas, the best of the year. The crowd was excited for a game, which in at least the mind of the fans, that is still a rivalry between longtime foes.
San Diego State felt the energy of a near-capacity crowd from the tip as it came out hot from three-point range. The Aztecs made six of their first seven three-point attempts en route to an early 25-11 lead. They finished the half making 9-17 from deep (52.9%) and went into the locker room with a well-deserved 52-38 lead.
The second half was more of the same as the Aztecs continued to shoot above 50% from the field, but they attempted and made less three-point shots as they had the lead. Defensively there were some lapses that allowed the Cougars to keep it close, but a strong finish from the charity stripe allowed the Aztecs to hold on for the victory. It was one of the best offensive performances by a San Diego State team in a long while.
Devin Watson led the Aztecs in scoring with 23 points and eight assists. Matt Mitchell scored 22 points on 9-12 shooting and did not have a single turnover. Jeremy Hemsley (14 points and four assists) and Jordan Schakel (12 points and eight rebounds) rounded out the double-digit scorers.
BYU was led by TJ Haws, who scored 18 points in 32 minutes. Jashire Hardnett scored 12 points and Yoeli Childs and Luke Worthington finished with 11 points each. Childs who leads the Cougars in points and rebounds put up half his average in those categories against the Aztecs.
San Diego State has a week off for Christmas and will face off against Brown next Saturday at Viejas.