San Diego State vs Utah State Championship Game: Keys to an Aztecs Win

San Diego State vs Utah State Championship Game: Keys to an Aztecs Win

Boise State

San Diego State vs Utah State Championship Game: Keys to an Aztecs Win


San Diego State vs Utah State Championship Game: Keys to an Aztecs Win

How San Diego State can win.

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Will Aztecs win it all?

For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the championship game is between San Diego St. and Utah St. The two programs have shown a remarkable amount of consistency year over year, and once again meet on the biggest stage.

The Aztecs struggled to get a win against Colorado St. in the quarterfinal round, but cruised against San Jose St. and Player of the Year Omari Moore.

The Aggies easily dispatched of Mew Mexico in the quarterfinal round, and struggled early against Boise St. but locked in on defense in the second half and won by 10 points.

Each team has a chance to win its third tournament championship in the past six years. The stakes are high. KenPom essentially has the game as a coin flip, with the Aztecs as a one point favorite.

For the Aztecs to win, they’ll need to limit the damage from behind the arc. Utah St. is the 5th best team in the nation shooting from three, and they can score points in bunches. Against Boise st. The shot only 31% from three but most of them came in the second half and really demoralized Boise St. Teams often struggle to shoot in the championship game as legs are tired after back to back to back games. That fact should favor the Aztecs, but they can’t rely on it.

The Aztecs will also need to control the glass. Getting a stop is useless without securing the rebound. Utah St. is the bigger team, so it’s easier said than done. The Spartans were able to manipulate the Aztecs switching defense to pull the bigs out to the perimeter, and got some easy offensive rebounds because of it. The Aztecs need to do a better job of boxing out and securing the rebounds.

Lastly, the Aztecs need to use their depth to their advantage. Over the last two games only one Aztec has played more than 50 combined minutes (Lamont Butler, with 57). They should be much fresher and less susceptible to fatigue compared to the Aggies. Stevan Ashworth (my personal vote for player of the year) has played 73 minutes over the last two games. Taylor Funk has played 59. Max Shulga has played 69. Sean Bairstow has played 60. Those minutes adding up often take a toll by third game in three days. Add to it that the Aggies didn’t finish their previous game until roughly 14 hours before having to face SDSU, while the Aztecs got a few extra hours of rest.

Over the last month both teams have been on a hot streak. According to the Aztecs have been the 11th best team in the nation since February 11th, while the Aggies rank 13th over that time span. The teams are neck and neck. Whichever team can overcome fatigue and execute better will win.




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