Mountain West Championship Game: Keys To Aztecs Victory
With semi-finals win against Boise State the Aztecs are now 30-1. The Aztecs have momentum, but the Aggies have desperation.
San Diego State advances to the finals to face off against 2019 defending champions Utah State.
Las Vegas, NV- San Diego State started off sluggish before shifting gears to decisively defeat Boise State 81-68 in the semi-finals on Thursday. Sound familiar? This has been a consistent theme over the last six-odd games, however the Aztecs have effectively re-tooled at the half to steamroll their opponents in all cases.
Will this continue against Utah State in the championship game?
Whatever the case: now is the time for the Aztecs to secure their place as a NCAA Tournament #1 seed either in the East Region or the West Region, depending upon what happens with Gonzaga.
SDSU will also have to be well aware that Utah State will be fighting for their lives to secure a first-four tournament berth. While the Aztecs are already set: Utah State is right on the bubble. This will be Sam Merrill’s last opportunity to appear in the big dance.
HOW TO WATCH
Where: Thomas & Mack; Las Vegas, Nevada
When: 5:30 p.m. EST / 2:30 p.m. PST
STREAMING: CBSSports.com or FuboTV with a free trial
KENPOM: Aztecs -7
Here are keys to the Aztecs winning the 2020 Mountain West Championship
1. HANDLE WITH CARE
Avoiding turnovers and minimizing fouling is going to be key today in a very frenetic, hard-fought game. Utah State is going to be making an all-out blitz to prevent the Aztecs from winning, and will be ultra-aggressive. Because of this, Matt Mitchell and the Aztecs can’t make sloppy passes, and must avoid charge calls, reach in fouls and anything even resembling a technical foul. Count on the Aggies working hard to draw fouls as well. Emotions will be running high so careful ball handling and play can’t be emphasized enough!
2. SCORE IN ALL THREE ZONES
SDSU can make it rain three’s. While the first four goals made against Boise State were three-pointers, the absence of penetration points was striking and the Aztecs paid the price by falling into a 16-point deficit. When San Diego State penetrates the paint, fires off the mid-range jumper and also hits three’s they become unstoppable. If they do this, they will enter the half in the lead, and begin the second half with the high ground.
3. FIND THE HOT HAND
The Aggies will be working to stymie Malachi Flynn, and don’t be surprised if they double-cover him in an effort to disrupt the Aztecs’ field general. San Diego State’s greatest strength is its offensive depth, and even with Flynn being shut down (which is very hard to do) Jordan Schakel, KJ Feagin, Matt Mitchell, Yanni Wetzell, Trey Pulliam, and several others can literally become the Aztecs’ leading scorer. On different days different players get the hot hand, so by moving the ball around, the Aztecs can pinpoint who is on fire. Look for Schakel, Wetzell and Feagin to light it up in this game.
4. SMOTHER THE AGGIES DEFENSIVELY
The Aztecs’ calling card for the last fifteen plus years is elite defense. When they turn it on, opponents’ scoring percentages drop off. Shots are missed, mistakes are made, passes are intercepted and turnovers increase. The Aggies have some of the Mountain West’s top perimeter sharp shooters, specifically in Sam Merrill and Justin Bean. In addition, with 7′ Neemias Queta as center, Yanni Wetzell will have his work cut out for him. KJ Feagin can literally become a human shadow defensively, and if the Aztecs do what they do best they will bring that scoring percentage for the Aggies well below their impressive average.
5. IN FLYNN WE TRUST
Malachi Flynn is special for many reasons. Perhaps the best reason is that those around him believe great things are going to happen. He is the tip of the spear on the Aztecs, but when he’s in command, everybody else rises up. It would be hard to believe he and his teammates will not will the Aztecs to dominance in the championship game.
2020 has been The Year of the Aztec. Tonight is a fantastic opportunity for the San Diego State Aztecs to secure their position as a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever.
The Aztec Nation wishes San Diego State success in the 2020 Mountain West Championship game!