Aztecs find their groove again against a tough foe
The San Diego State Aztecs came in with something to prove. A few days ago they lost to their bitter rival BYU, at home, due to a poor shooting performance where two separate starters each went 1-9 from the field.
This team looked like a different beast.
Led by center Nathan Mensah, this Aztecs team controlled the game from start to finish. Mensah controlled the paint defensively in a way we haven’t seen since before he went down with injury a year ago. His presence inside allowed perimeter players to aggressively contest shots behind the arc and take St. Mary’s out of their rhythm.
At halftime, the Aztecs led 40-20. St. Mary’s managed to shoot only 25% from the field, and a mere 18% from behind the arc.
The domination continued into the second half. St. Mary’s did manage to make a run but never cut the lead to single digits, and the Aztecs responded with a run of their own, extending the lead and eventually winning by 25.
Losing to BYU is never ok, but if the Aztecs can start every game the way they did against St. Mary’s, they won’t lose very many games for the rest of the season.
Nathan Mensah was an absolute star. He led the team with a +/- of +22 for the game. He finished with a career-high 18 points on 9 shots, 13 rebounds, and another career-high six blocks. It was his deacons double-double in 3 games. If Mensah continues to play with the same aggressiveness he will very quickly be seen as the best big in the Mountain West.
More Mensah love. According to KenPom, Mensah has the 23rd greatest defensive rebounding %age, and the 5th best block %age.— Aztec Breakdown (@aztecbreakdown) December 23, 2020
Matt Mitchell, after scoring a career high 35 against BYU, had a much quieter, but still solid game. He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 2 assists. Jordan Schakel finished with 12 points and 2 rebounds.
The other star of the game was the 5’8” Terrell Gomez who finished with 13 points on 6 shots, and 4 assists. Gomez has struggled to find his rhythm in an Aztec uniform, but showed his abilities as a sniper, going 3-4 from behind the arc, with one make coming from the logo.
Gomez from somewhere near Santa Barbara! #GoAztecs pic.twitter.com/OgdS1qQBTx— San Diego State Men's Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) December 23, 2020
The Aztec’s next game was supposed to be against UNLV on January 2nd, but that game may be postponed due to COVID restrictions. Coach Dutcher has said he’s been actively looking for another opponent.
Dutcher on still adding more games: "We're actively pursuing games…we want to play, we'll play anybody, anywhere, any place"— Luis Lopez 🏁🐍🇲🇽🌉 (@luislopezDA) December 23, 2020
If another game doesn’t get scheduled, the Aztec’s next game will be at home against Nevada in January 7th.