Aztecs Register 80-75 Win Against Tenacious Cowboys In Laramie

Aztecs Register 80-75 Win Against Tenacious Cowboys In Laramie

San Diego State

Aztecs Register 80-75 Win Against Tenacious Cowboys In Laramie


Aztecs Register 80-75 Win Against Tenacious Cowboys In Laramie

SDSU edges closer to re-entry into the AP Top 25.

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The Wyoming Cowboys play tougher than their 5-10 record suggests. Once healthy, they will be even harder to beat.

Laramie, WY-  The San Diego State Aztecs (12-3, 3-0 MW) traveled to NCAA basketball’s remotest venue, the Arena Auditorium, and left with a win over the formidable Wyoming Cowboys (5-10, 0-3 MW), at a final score of 80-75, on Saturday afternoon, January 7th.

The trip to Laramie involves a charter flight to a small airport, followed by a long drive through winding mountain roads, ever higher into altitude to the elevation 7,220′ Arena Auditorium.

Without question: the Cowboys have a special home court advantage. They are coached by Jeff Linder and host a fierce lineup.

The Cowboys are marred with injured players including Mountain West Preseason Player of the Year Graham Ike (foot), forward Hunter Thompson (mononucleosis), rising star guard Noah Reynolds (concussion) and guard Kenny Foster (back).

Reynolds was the Cowboys’ leading scorer over the past month, averaging 19.2 boards in his past six games in December. He left last weekend’s 76-75 loss to No. 22-ranked New Mexico with a bad concussion in the first half.

Despite all of this, the Aztecs barely prevailed, repeatedly trailing in the second half before going on a 14-6 run and holding the Cowboys scoreless for the final 2 minutes and 56 seconds.

Despite being down 4 key players, the Cowboys kept pace with the Aztecs throughout, shooting 26-of-45 (57.8%) from the field and 10-of-22 from behind the arc (45.5%) but they struggled defensively with Thompson and Ike unable to play.

During this closely contested match the lead changed 17 times.

Lamont Butler had a career high 23 points for the Aztecs, shooting 5/10 from behind the arc, while Matt Bradley contributed 18 points. It may have been Lamont’s night, but Bradly’s uncanny ability to manufacture points at critical moments was on full display.

Bradley spearheaded a late 14-6 run. Barely ahead, 70-69 with four minutes left, he drove and scored on a bank shot in traffic. Next possession: Bradley hit a three with a hand in his face. A minute later: Bradly made another hard drive, drawing a foul and making both free throws to secure 18-points on 7 of 13 shooting.

That run also included two free throws and a basket by Jaedon LeDee, who finished with eight points and nine rebounds including four offensive boards. LeDee didn’t miss a shot or free throw.

Nathan Mensah hurt his ankle, and Darrion Trammell had just four points but made a clutch steal at 15 seconds left ending the game.

The Aztecs finished 12 of 26 beyond the arc (46.2 percent).

For Wyoming, Hunter Maldonado played all 40 minutes. He had 20 points, nine rebounds and three assists. Maldonado is the centerpiece for the Cowboys, and like Matt Bradley, he is exceptional at manufacturing clutch points. Wyoming had four players score in double figures.

In addition to the key Wyoming players out, Brendan Wenzel (14 points on 5 of 5 shooting) left the game during the second half.

Said coach Linder, “Our guys’ effort was tremendous, all things considered. For our six or seven guys to battle a team like San Diego State from a physicality standpoint, I’m really proud of the effort.”

The Aztecs left Laramie with the win, but they will face the Cowboys again on March 4th.  If the Cowboys are healthy then, the Aztecs will have their work cut out for them.  The Cowboys are possibly the best team to maintain a 5-10 record, bar none, and they could start winning once healthy again.


SDSU hosts Nevada, Mountain West first place at 4-0, on Tuesday, January 10th, at Viejas Arena at 8 p.m. PST, live on CBS Sports Network.

Wyoming travels to Logan to play Utah State on Tuesday, January 10th, at Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at 8:30 p.m. MST.


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