Utah St. be San Diego St: Preview, Who To Watch, Prediction
The Aggies travel to Viejas for the first time since before the pandemic to continue the budding rivalry.
WHO: Utah St. Aggies (15-11) Vs San Diego St. Aztecs (15-6)
When: Tuesday, February 15th 10:00PM ET/ 7:00 PM PT
Where: San Diego, Ca
TV: CBS Sports Network
STREAM: FuboTV — Get a free trial
Utah St. travels to Viejas arena looking to sweep the Aztecs in the regular season for the second year in a row. They likely feel very confident, having won four of their last five matchups against the Aztecs.
None of those games, however, were at Viejas arena. The Aggies are traveling to San Diego for the first time since before the pandemic started. Utah St has not won in Viejas Arena since 1998, their only win in eight tries. Since Steve Fisher and Brian Dutcher took over, the Aztecs are 7-0 against the Aggies at Viejas, with an average margin of victory of 15 points.
Utah St. is also on a losing streak, dropping a close game at Wyoming in overtime, and following that up with a home loss to a struggling Nevada team without starting center Warren Washington.
The Aztecs are on a three game winning streak for the first time since early January, with their last win being a twelve point win against Air Force.
Utah St. is led by Justin Bean, who would be a player of the year favorite if the Aggies had more team success. He is averaging 18.4 points per game and shooting a scorching 50% from behind the arc. Shooting was his one weakness in years past, and he obviously put the time in the gym to address it. He also averages 9.9 rebounds, just shy of averaging a double-double.
Utah St. has been without it’s sniper in Brock Miller for twelve games in a row. In his absence Brandon Horvath has taken a larger role in the offense. The 6’10” big man. Is averaging 13.7 points and 6.7 rebounds on a 52/34/62 shooting line.
The Aztecs are led by Matt Bradley, who is averaging 20.4 points and 6 rebounds in conference play, on a 49/50/81 shooting line. He has carried the Aztecs offensively. No other Aztec player has averaged even eight points in conference play. They make it work as they have the second best defense in the nation, so they don’t need to score that much. Trey Pulliam will be another player to watch. When he plays well the Aztecs offense does great. When he struggles the team struggles. Pulliam had zero points and four turnovers in the first meeting.
The Aztecs are 3 point favorites at home.
Keys for Utah State – The best thing Utah St. did was prevent the Aztecs from running in transition. The Aztecs best offense is their defense, and they try to force turnovers and score before their oppnents can get set. Utah St. beat the Aztecs down the floor seemingly every time. Forcing the Aztecs to play in the half court is the first key for any opponent they have.
Playing team basketball offensively is the other key. Sharing the ball and getting scoring from multiple players will wear down the Aztecs’ defense. The Aggies had four players score ten or more points in the first matchup, led by Steven Ashworth who shot 5-10 from deep. If the Aggies play good team ball they can get their first win in Viejas arena since joining the Mountain West conference.
Keys for San Diego St. – The first key is rebounding on both ends. The Aztecs lost the rebounding battle 35-21 in Logan, and did not collect a single offensive rebound while giving up nine. Teams that rely on defense can not allow their opponents to have extra scoring opportunities. They need to control the defensive glass while also grabbing some offensive rebounds to get a few extra chances to score.
The Aztecs have also had a tendency to start off slow in the second half. Their was a one point differential at halftime in the first matchup, then the usually stout Aztecs defense gave up 26 points in the first ten minutes coming out of halftime. They need to start out each half strong.
Predictions – The Aztecs are looking to prove that the beatdown in Logan was a fluke, brought on in part by playing three games in five days immediately after a covid pause. The Aggies are looking for thier first win in Viejas arena this century. It will be a close games between programs that are quickly becoming rivals. When the dust settles, the Aztecs will come out victorious.
Prediction – 68-64 Aztecs