San Diego State Recap: Aztecs stumble at altitude to Utah State Aggies, 75-57.
A rested, hungrier Utah State team was the difference.
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Exhaustion at elevation is not the right equation for victory.
On their third game in five days, San Diego State had a tough ask to win a game at Logan, UT 48 hours after their blowout 80-55 win against UNLV.
Their elite defense stayed at home while tired bodies allowed a season-high 75 points to Utah State. The Aztecs are now 0-3 in Logan, since the 2020-2021 season and own a 0-2 record in the state of Utah this season.
The first half picked up where these two teams left off in the Mountain West Championship game in Las Vegas. SDSU was matching tempo and shot-for-shot against USU, scoring an effective 59.1 percent on 13-of-22 field goals, and holding down Justin Bean who has been carrying the program with injuries to his fellow senior Brock Miller.
They did not find a proper defensive solution to Steven Ashworth who shot 4-of-8 scoring 12 from the arc in the first half.
.@stevenAsh_15 aka SPLASHWORTH🤧#AggiesAllTheWay pic.twitter.com/MiPeKZYwm3
— USU Men's Hoops (@USUBasketball) January 27, 2022
The Aztecs closed the half only down a point, 32-31. However, the Aggies capitalized on their opportunities ripping off a 13-2 run in front of their home crowd. Utah State would hit easy layup after easy layup, whereas San Diego State hit clunkers on their end of the court, missing four of five to open the half.
By the time the Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum was rocking, it was 45-33.
Despite getting solid production from Matt Bradley, 19 points on 8-of-12 field goals, no other starter brought their offense. Trey Pulliam didn’t score, Lamont Butler recorded four points and five turnovers, and only Chad Baker-Mazara reached double-digits with 15 points.
They could not follow up on their misses as Utah State shut out the Aztecs from any offensive rebounds. The battle of the boards was won by the Aggies, outrebounding the visitors, 35 (26 defensive, nine offensive) to 21 rebounds (all defensive).
San Diego State’s defense was not present. There was a lot of Aggie off-ball movement that SDSU could not follow because the home team looked fresher and hungrier for a victory. The pace at which they were moving made it hard for the Aztecs to run their defensive scheme, and to counter the bodies on the court coach Brian Dutcher had to put 10 players in rotation.
With the amount of exhaustion kicking in the second half, Dutcher’s team allowed four Aggies to score in the double-digits and Justin Bean to earn another double-double. The vistors weren’t able to generate enough offense or stops to get it closer than seven points.
San Diego State’s loss dropped them nine spots in KenPom’s rankings and gives Utah State a NET Quad 1 victory. This defeat could place the Aztecs more on the bubble if they do not earn the automatic bid.