No. 20 Aztecs Thrash Utes 80-52 At Staples Center, Now 12-0
The same Utes who defeated #6 Kentucky this week were effectively dismantled by #20 San Diego State on Saturday.
The red hot Aztecs are not only perfect- but winning by an average 20 points per game.
Los Angeles, CA- San Diego State (12-0, 2-0 MW) stood and took notice when the Utes (9-3) upset No. 6 Kentucky earlier this week. A question in every fan’s mind was: just how good are the Utes these days? How will they stack up against a supremely talented SDSU basketball team?
Now we know.
The Aztecs hammered the Utes. The’ve been doing that to other teams as well this season. During the Las Vegas Invitational, they issued Creighton their worst loss in over 600 games. Creighton is a top 25 team now.
Aganst the Utes, the closest they came to worrying or panicking was seeing their lead fall to just eight points for a brief moment. The Aztecs then pulled away with 51 second-half points to claim a statement 80-52 win over the Utes on Dec. 21 at Staples Center in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic.
Phenom junior guard Malachi Flynn led the Aztecs with 16 points, three rebounds, eight assists, two steals and a block. Following his performance, Flynn was named the MVP for the entire competition.
Flynn, if you haven’t seen him in action, can get hot. In addition to rebounding and dishing clutch assists, he can score at will inside the paint, and also outside of the arc to 30 feet.
Senior forward Yanni Wetzell and sophomore forward Nathan Mensah both managed to score 14 points each, and 11 rebounds.
The Aztecs’ armada of shooting guards are so strong at the perimeter that Wetzell and Mensah are finding more plays in the paint. At the same time, the Aztecs’ stifling defense is preventing other teams from doing the same. Case in point: the Utes managed just 10 points to SDSU’s 42 on Saturday.
“I’ve got to give credit to the guards,” Wetzell said. “That’s often why we’re so open in the paint because we’ve got such great shooters.”
SDSU led rebounding 37-29, a feat they’ve accomplished 10 times in 12 games this season. The Aztecs also managed 13 second-chance points from offensive boards
Said Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher, “We have a versatile group. We have a really good inside-out attack so we’re not one-dimensional.”
The Aztecs started the game red hot, shooting 3-for-4 from the arc. Then, SDSU lost its touch and went on a 0-for-10 streak from the perimeter.
That 0-for-10 span lasted for 20 minutes until the Aztec found their mojo again. They then went 6-for-8 from trey land for the balance of the game, raising the Aztecs’ 3-pointer percentage back up to above 40%.
Flynn, who hit two out of his four 3-point attempts, said the misses didn’t hinder them from taking shots.
Said Flynn, “We were getting good looks when we were 0-and-10. We missed a couple easy ones. We’re going to keep shooting, we’ve got a lot of shooters on the floor. Once one person gets hot, it’s kind of contagious for us, and it just kept going in.”
Junior guard Jordan Schakel and sophomore guard Adam Seiko each sank two 3-pointers.
According to Dutcher, “We knew Timmy Allen was going to be the nightmare matchup because he can really attack to the basket off the dribble and he’s very good in the backdown game. We know he’s a high-level player, so we mixed bodies on him everywhere from Malachi to Yanni to everybody on the team.”
Dutcher’s strategy paid off, as SDSU held Allen to 11 in the first half. All in all the Aztecs clamped down the Utes who made just 19 points on 22.7% shooting in the same timeframe.
“I think we’re really tough,” Flynn said. “Once the coaches put that into us too, it’s just a collectively tough group… We just have that mentality.”
The Utes, visibly frustrated, ended up wrapping the game with 52 points- their lowest total of the season by eight.
“We’re very talented offensively, but the character on this team is reflected at the defensive end,” Dutcher said. “We’ll find a way to score enough points to win if our defense and rebounding stay where it is, and they made the next step defensively.”
The Aztecs square-off next against Cal Poly, on Dec. 28.