Game Recap: San Diego State 72, Boise State 55
All five starters in double figures for the Aztecs
Aztecs pass yet another road test, beating Boise State on the road to remain unbeaten
San Diego State inched a bit closer to perfection on Sunday, extending their program-best undefeated start to 26-0 with a 72-55 road win over Boise State.
Aztecs guard Malachi Flynn bolstered his case for both All-Ameirca and MW Player of the Year honors, scoring 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. Flynn also added six assists, six rebounds, and three steals, acting as an extension of head coach Brian Dutcher on the court.
All five starters were in double figures for San Diego State. Yanni Wetzell scored 14 points and pulled down seven rebounds, while frontcourt mate Matt Mitchell chipped in 11 points, seven boards, and five steals. Guards Jordan Schakel and KJ Feagin scored 12 and 10 points, respectively, combining with Flynn to make eight three-pointers during the game.
Boise State guard Justinian Jessup matched Flynn’s game-high total of 22 points. The senior also extended his Mountain West all-time record for three-pointers, knocking down five shots from beyond the arc in ten attempts.
Unfortunately for Jessup—and head coach Leon Rice—the rest of the Broncos were slow to keep up on the offensive end. Jessup and Derrick Alston Jr. combined to outscore their teammates 34-21.
Alston finished in double figures, but he missed some high-percentage shots that could have raised that total. The lanky junior was playing in front of his father, Derrick Sr., who used the NBA’s All-Star break to sneak away from his post as head coach of the G League’s Westchester Knicks.
The Alston family reunion ultimately did not spark enough momentum to help Boise State contend with a San Diego State squad that has been equal parts immovable object and unstoppable force.
Flynn opened the scoring with a three-pointer for the Aztecs, and they never gave the lead back.
San Diego State led 40-26 at halftime, after a Wetzell field goal that gave the Aztecs their largest lead of the game to that point. The deficit grew as large as 19 in the second half, though a 10-0 Boise State run brought the Broncos within single digits with ten minutes remaining.
The Aztecs managed to keep Boise State at bay, however, and cruised to yet another impressive victory.
The win should help San Diego State’s bid for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, with Boise State almost certain to qualify as either a Quadrant 1 or 2 victory for Brian Dutcher’s team.
The real question will be whether or not the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee will reward the Aztecs with a spot in the West regional–where they would move on to play in Los Angeles’ Staples Center–or if they will be sent out to the East regional in favor of Gonzaga.
Either way, this debate is much better than the preseason questions surrounding whether San Diego State was even a tournament team.
As for Boise State, the loss mainly just solidifies the longstanding conventional wisdom that the Broncos will not be dancing as part of the March Madness festivities. Still, Leon Rice has orchestrated an impressive turnaround from a disappointing start to the season. Boise State will likely be among the invitees to secondary postseason tournaments such as the NIT and CBI.
For now, the loss knocks Boise State back into fifth place in the Mountain West. The Broncos are a full game behind second-place Utah State and a half-game behind both Colorado State and Nevada. Boise State will have their eyes on a top-three seed in the MWC Tournament though, as they would be guaranteed some buffer before a potential rematch with San Diego State.
Regardless of what the future may hold, though, the Broncos will be disappointed not to have earned the distinction of giant killers on Sunday.
That Aztecs head back home for some well-earned rest. San Diego State plays just once next week, hosting UNLV at Viejas Arena on Saturday. It will be the first of two straight home games for San Diego State, with the second coming against Colorado State on Feb. 25. They finish the regular season in Reno against the Wolf Pack on Feb. 29.
Boise State will travel to San Jose State on Wednesday with hopes of grabbing an easy win from the league’s tenth-best team. If they can avoid the upset, they will gain back some ground—or at least not lose any—in the top-half cluster of teams behind SDSU. The Broncos’ regular season concludes with a home game against New Mexico and a trip to the Thomas & Mack Center to face UNLV.
Andrew is a current USBWA member, covering college basketball for multiple outlets, including Mountain West Wire of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group and Busting Brackets of the FanSided Network. He also runs the Dieckhoff Power Index, a college basketball analytics system, and provides bracketology predictions throughout the season.