Men’s basketball update: Schakel honored, newly-ranked Aztecs prepare for Fresno State

San+Diego+State+men%27s+basketball+senior+guard+Jordan+Schakel+drives+to+the+basket+during+the+Aztecs%27+77-55+win+over+San+Jos%C3%A9+State+on+Feb.+10%2C+2021+at+Viejas+Arena.

Alexa Oslowski

San Diego State men’s basketball senior guard Jordan Schakel drives to the basket during the Aztecs’ 77-55 win over San José State on Feb. 10, 2021 at Viejas Arena.

by Luis Lopez, Assistant Sports Editor

So far this season, there have been Mountain West Conference Player of the Week winners from all across the conference. 

No. 25 San Diego State men’s basketball is the only program to have its players honored three different times. 

With senior guard Jordan Schakel winning the honor for the second time this year (Dec. 14 and Feb 15) combined with senior forward Matt Mitchell’s award back in week one, the Aztecs are continuing what has been a stretch of good fortune.

Schakel appreciates the recognition he’s receiving, but said he also knows what this time of year is all about.

“It’s nice, but I mean we just focus on winning,” Schakel said. “(It’s) more important right now with the win streak that we have going on and trying to finish the season strong.”

With the team on a six-game win streak, they’re doing just that, also entering back into the AP Top 25 rankings for the first time since the week of Dec. 14, 2020.

However for Mitchell, he said a number like that won’t matter come March.

“It all comes down to the end of the season and all the work you put in,” Mitchell said. “Anything can happen in a basketball game, anybody can go on a run.”

As things stand, SDSU sits at fourth place in the Mountain West with just four games left to go in the regular season, and perhaps even more.

Head coach Brian Dutcher mentioned in a press conference on Monday that he has held discussions with Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson about potentially adding a game.

While Dutcher said they couldn’t find a date, he is still actively looking to play a team that is higher than the Aztecs in the NCAA NET rankings, where they currently rank 24th.

“That cuts the field down to 20-something teams, and if those 20-something teams aren’t available … we’re probably not looking to play below us right now,” Dutcher said.

At least for now, the Aztecs will play their last road games of the year when they head to Fresno State for a two-game series on Thursday and Friday. 

SDSU will see an old friend at the Save Mart Center: former Aztec assistant coach Justin Hutson, who helped recruit current stars like Schakel and Mitchell.

“I think Justin Hutson is a really great coach … being able to take some of the things he did and implement them at Fresno State, they play a lot like us on the defensive end,” Mitchell said.

The last four matchups between the Aztecs and Bulldogs have been tight contests. 

The teams have split the matchups and each of the four games have been decided by nine points or less, with neither squad scoring over 75 points. 

“The players that they recruit are long, athletic guys they can kind of mold into guys that play really hard and play defense … it’s extremely hard to score on teams like that,” Schakel said. 

The Bulldogs only give up about 67 points a game, good for sixth in the conference. 

Dutcher believes that points will come at a premium, but knows just how much his team will need to produce to come out with two wins.

“Both our games last year were fairly low-scoring and a struggle to put points on the board,” Dutcher said. “So I would anticipate you’ll see a lot of the same in this series, that points will be at a premium and if we could get in the 70s, it will probably be enough to win.”

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