2020 Mountain West Title Game: Keys For A Utah State Victory
Aggies looking for back-to-back conference titles.
Can Utah State avoid third loss to Aztecs?
Utah State is back in the Mountain West title game for the second-straight year and they advanced by holding off a very pesky No. 11 Wyoming Cowboys team in the semifinals, 89-82.
The Aggies have been one hottest teams in the Mountain West by winning eight of its last nine. However, if they are going to win consecutive conference titles for the first time in 19 years, the Aggies will need to beat San Diego State for the first time all year.
The Aztecs own an 80-68 and a 77-68 victory of Utah State so the Aggies need to figure out a way to get one of the best teams in the country.
What else could you want with the top two teams in the league squaring off for the first NCAA Tournament berth awarded?
1. Sam Merrill vs. Malachi Flynn matchup
The past two Mountain West players of the year will square off this afternoon. This is a huge matchup to determine who will win. The two times that these teams have squared off, Merrill has averaged 21 points and 6.5 assists per game. However, his shooting percentage was not great at 39.9 percent from the field and 37.5 percent.
As for Flynn, he was more well-round as he put up 18.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and two steals. This matchup is going to be one ot watch and both players will probably be the best two on the court Saturday afternoon but if Merrill can outplay Flynn by just a little bit to get the win. That will be a tough task and it will come by if Merrill can slow him down on defense or go shot for shot and outscore Flynn on offense. Slowing either down will be tough for both teams, what would make for a fun game is if both of these guys go off.
2. Neemias Queta is back
Queta has slowly been turning into the player he was last year and finally seems to be recovered from the knee injury he suffered during the summer playing in a FIBA tournament with Portugal. Since February, he is averaging 15 points per game which includes four games of 20 or more points.
Queta might be the biggest reason that the Aggies can pull off this upset. In his two games vs. San Diego State, his first one was not great on offense as he scored just eight points but he did have three blocks and a steal. The Aggies will need him to break through against a really good San Diego State defense and get about 12-15 points and achieve a double-double.
3. Utah State’s offense vs. SDSU’s defense
This game is likely to not feature a lot of points as the Aztecs are third in the NCAA and are allowing just 59.1 points per game. Utah State averages 77 points per game on their end. Going one step further, the Aggies have scored 68 points in each matchup and lost. That is because this not the older San Diego State teams where the game is slow and the goal is first to 55 to win.
The Aztecs can put up points and scored over 80 and 77 in its two wins over Utah State and for the year put up 75.5 per game. The Aggies will need more than Merrill and Queta to score points. Justin Bean, Diogo Brito, and Brock Miller to supplement the scoring. At worst score some early buckets and be a threat later on which can open up Merrill and Queta.
Score early and often against this SDSU defense is possibly the biggest key for Utah State to pull off the upset and get the Mountain West’s automatic NCAA Tournament bid. A loss to the Aztecs might leave Utah State on the outside looking in once Selection Sunday comes around next week.