San Diego State vs. Utah State: How To Watch, Live Stream, Preview, Prediction
Can the Aztecs pull off an upset?
Big game for Utah State and San Diego State
The San Diego State Aztecs continue their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde role this week as they head to Logan, Utah to face off against the surprisingly upstart Utah State Aggies. At home, the Aztecs have played the role of Dr. Jekyll as they have collected wins, usually big wins all the while looking as impressive as last year’s team during the end of season win streak. On the road San Diego State has been the complete opposite, the evil Mr. Hyde, looking like a shell of themselves, even in the victories.
This weekend the Aztecs face off against the Utah State Aggies who are under the direction of first-year coach Craig Smith. Coach Smith has led the Aggies to an 18-5 record and has them in second place in the Mountain West at 8-2, one game behind first-place Nevada. Sam Merrill once again leads the way for the Aggies, pacing all scorers on the team with 19.4 points per game. However, the big addition, and game changer on the squad, has been freshman center Neemias Queta, who has nearly averaged a double-double on the season with 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds per game.
Coach Smith’s team has been playing well and exceeding all expectations. They are one of the best teams at sharing the ball (9th in the nation at 17.6 per game), rebounding (15th in the nation at 43.7 per game), and at rebound margin (5th in the nation at +9.7 per game). Utah State’s strengths are a great foundation to a good team and likely will cause the Aztecs fits. Here are some keys to the Aztecs pulling out a win.
Weather the Storm
Basketball is a game of runs and in most of the games the Aztecs have played in they have been submerged by a big run. Earlier in the year the run came early in the game, but now the Aztecs are experiencing them before or after halftime. How they respond to them has dictated the final score. When the Aztecs keep their composure and stick to the script, they tend to fight back. But when they deviate from the game plan and do not move the ball the offense stalls. The Aztecs need to keep their composure when the storm hits and fight through it.
I literally could write the same thing every week about the Aztecs, and rebounding would be one of the recurring themes each time. When the Aztecs do well on the glass the wins come easier, but when they do poorly, especially against teams that do not rebound well, the losses are just so much more excruciating. As previously mentioned, Utah State is one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, to pull out a victory they have to pull down more rebounds than the Aggies.
Stay out of Foul Trouble
San Diego State gets in foul trouble too often and too early. Watching the games I have come to notice that the fouls happen in silly ways. Either we get beat and foul trying to catch up, are out of position and foul trying to make up for the error, late on rotations, or overly aggressive when the offensive player is not a threat to score.
Things like that drive a coach mad and Coach Brian Dutcher has seen too much of it happening this season. The problem is that when the Aztecs are out of sync and down on the scoreboard, getting in foul trouble doubles the trouble that they face. First, it limits who can be on the floor. Secondly, when the opponent gets into the bonus they give up free points that allow the other team to extend the lead, without having to earn it.
This is a tough game and on the road and it will likely present a problem for the young Aztecs. It is imperative that Dr. Jekyll show up and pick up a victory.