Aztecs off to a hot start
Who: San Diego State Aztecs (1-0) vs. UC Irvine Anteaters (0-1)
When: Friday, November 27th — 4:00 PM PST/5:00 PM CST
Where: Viejas Arena, San Diego CA
TV: Mountain West Network.
Radio: Stream the game on TuneIn
Odds: KenPom favors SDSU by 13.
San Diego State’s second game of the season comes against the Anteaters of UC Irvine. The game follows this season’s strategy of scheduling tournament quality opponents early in the schedule, as UC Irvine is expected to win the big west conference.
The Aztecs picked up right where they left off last season, coming off a dominating performance against #22 UCLA at home. The Aztecs won the game 73-58, and while it took them a few minutes to find their groove, once they did there was nothing UCLA could do. The Aztecs showed a lot of depth as they were able to dominate a ranked team even while their best player was having an off night. Matt Mitchell scored 15 points, but used 18 possessions to do so. That is not his typical efficient self. Expect him to play better against the Anteaters.
— San Diego State Men's Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) November 26, 2020
The Anteaters lost to Pepperdine in their opener by a score of 86-72. They kept things close in the first half, but couldn’t close the gap in the second. UC Irvine is a team that will often play 10 deep, and 11 of their players played for at least 10 minutes against pepperdine.
Keys to Victory:
Contain Brad Greene: Greene had 22 points and 9 rebounds in only 22 minutes of action last night. At 6’11”, 270 lbs. He can really impact the game in the paint. If Nathan Mensah and Joshua Tomaić can contain him expect the Anteaters to struggle on offense. Mensah looked a little rusty in his first game back in almost a year after missing 19 games last season with injury. His timing was off defensively and he mistimed his jumps often trying to get blocks. Expect that to improve as the season goes on, starting with Greene.
Limiting Fouls: Both of SDSU’s bigs were in foul trouble against UCLA. Mensah and Tomaić each finished the game with four, and their foul trouble forced Arop to play some minutes at the center spot (which went really well.) On top of that, both Mitchell and Schakel were pulled at different points due to fouls, and each finished with 3. UCLA was in the double bonus for seemingly the entire second half. UC Irvine went 14-15 from the line against Pepperdine, and are generally a pretty good free throw shooting team. Limiting those chances will be important in stemming their offensive production.
UC Irvine has some size that could give the Aztecs problems, but so did UCLA, and the Aztecs handled it just fine. It will be a tough battle inside, and rebounding will be especially crucial, but the likes of Mensah, Tomaić, and Arop can handle it. On the perimeter, the Anteaters don’t have the shooting to truly take advantage of the Aztecs’ pack line defense, and the Aztecs will get their shots off behind the arc. No disrespect to UC Irvine, but SDSU should win this one by 15 at least. SDSU Wins 75-60.