San Diego State Completes Comeback Against Utah State, 80-68.
Matt Mitchell wills San Diego State a win on Kawhi Leonard night.
On Kawhi’s jersey retirement night, the kid from the Inland Empire put the Aztecs on his back.
The biggest day in San Diego State basketball history was almost spoiled by the BYU-lite of the current Mountain West. After Utah State extended their first half lead to 8, it was poetic on Kawhi Leonard night.
The Aztecs needed life from somebody to get back in the game. The signs were obliviously there, but in the second half, the kid from the Inland Empire was going to show out in front of the man from the Inland Empire.
Matt Mitchell has had games where he showed up this season. Mitchell has been pivotal in his 6th-man role throughout the season, but the game was his and his idol’s.
It’s been known that Kawhi spends his NBA summers at San Diego State’s JAM center, the Aztecs’ team practice facility. Mitchell has been able to peek in while the NBA star is present to witness his work ethic. And throughout the year, Mitchell has looked at Kawhi’s Klaw logo inside the JAM center to be constantly reminded of his presence.
Mitchell put up a career high of 28 points, and was 4 of 6 from the arc. Mitchell stepped up to the call and put in the work. After last year’s mid-season loss at Logan, Mitchell might have carried a grudge against the Aggies. Mitchell put up 19 in front of a hostile crowd on the road, but started Viejas rocking when Mitchell hit his three.
The game against Utah State was the biggest game left of the schedule, no other game on paper would give San Diego State the mismatches and struggle.
Neemias Queta was locked down in Logan, but for the Aztecs not having Nathan Mensah proved a struggle for Yanni Wetzell down low. Wetzell came to San Diego State to get minutes at power forward, now the injury has pushed him to matchup against their biggest guys.
On paper Queta scored only eight points, but the mismatch in the paint was able to get shooters, Sam Merrill, Brock Miller, and Justin Bean going. In what would have been Utah State’s best win, came without fruition. Utah State quieted Viejas Arena for most of the first half, but once the pomp and celebration of Kawhi Leonard went through halftime. The momentum was all Aztecs.
Early speculation from the peanut gallery was that Kawhi’s immediate family and Paul George would be in attendance of a rocking Viejas Arena. However, in addition to George, Clipper owner Steve Ballmer, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and coach Doc Rivers were in attendance.