SDSU men’s basketball announces nonconference schedule, adds Saint Mary’s

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Jason Freund

Trey Pulliam (left) goes up for a shot against Colorado State.

by Jason Freund, Sports Editor

Basketball season is just around the corner and the expectations for the San Diego State Aztec men’s basketball team are higher than ever.

Maybe that’s why their nonconference schedule is so loaded.

The team announced the nonconference part of their schedule and, while a majority of the opponents were announced prior to head coach Brian Dutcher’s announcement, one more was added to the list.

On Dec. 17, the Aztecs will face the Saint Mary Gaels, a team that finished 14-10 in the West Coast Conference and 60th overall in NET rankings.

The Scarlet and Black will be facing ten (or eleven if certain criteria are met) nonconference opponents. Here is a quick rundown of each of them.

Nov. 9: SDSU vs UC Riverside

Normally, teams like to schedule a softball opponent to serve as a tune-up for the season. 

Not SDSU. 

Their home opener will be against a Tritons squad that finished 14-8 in the Big West Conference, took USC to overtime and finished just outside the top 100 in NET rankings.

The last time these two teams met was in November of 2014, a game that saw Aqeel Quin score 18 points en route to a 61-33 thrashing. While this may appear to be an easy opponent on paper, it has the distinct smell of a trap.

Nov. 12: SDSU at BYU

Nov. 12 is a date all Aztec fans have circled in red. Previous clashes between SDSU and BYU have been nothing short of legendary. Even without Jimmer Fredette and Kawhi Leonard, both squads can still put on a show.

BYU leads the all-time series 49-25 and beat SDSU 72-62 at Viejas Arena last year. The win helped BYU finish the season at No. 16 in NET rankings (10 above SDSU) and No. 23 in the AP Top 25. The Cougars even advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014-2015 season only to fall to UCLA 73-62.

Despite playing a road game at altitude, head coach Brian Dutcher seemed excited to be facing the Cougars once more.

“We beat them at their place two years ago, they beat us at our place last year. So homecourt has not held up the last two meetings,” Dutcher said. “So hopefully, that continues where we can get into Provo and find a way to sneak out a win against the good BYU team.”

Nov. 18: SDSU vs Arizona State

After defeating the Sun Devils last year in Arizona 80-68, SDSU will welcome ASU to Viejas Arena for the second of a home-and-home series.

ASU was ranked at the time of their loss and tumbled to the bottom of the Pac-12 rankings shortly after, finishing at 11-14 and 7-10 within conference play. Still, a victory over a Pac-12 team would make an impressive mark on SDSU’s resume.

Nov. 20: SDSU vs UT Arlington

The Aztecs will have only two days to recover from their match with ASU as Texas-Arlington, touring the West Coast during this time, will be making a stop at Viejas Arena. SDSU is the first of three Mountain West Conference teams Texas-Arlington will be facing.

The Mavericks, currently within the Sun Belt conference, finished the 2020-2021 season at 13-13 and third within the West Division. This will be the first time in history that these two will have played each other.

Nov. 25: SDSU vs Georgetown (John Wooden Classic)

SDSU begins the iconic John Wooden Classic in Anaheim against a very tough Georgetown that made the NCAA Tournament by the skin of their teeth.

Georgetown, led by NBA Hall of Famer and Hoyas alumni Patrick Ewing, finished their season at 13-13 and No. 72 in the NET rankings. Georgetown has a storied history of developing successful players while being a regular at the NCAA Tournament. The Hoyas and Aztecs have only played each other on one occasion during the 1981-1982 season that Georgetown won 71-53.

(If SDSU defeats Georgetown) Nov. 26: SDSU vs winner of USC/Saint Joseph’s

If SDSU loses to Georgetown, then nobody needs to worry about this potential matchup since it won’t happen.

If SDSU does beat Georgetown, they will play the winner of USC vs Saint Joseph’s. While the 5-15 Saint Joseph may provide an easier game (even though in this scenario they would’ve upset USC), it’s not a stretch to assume Dutcher wants his team to face a Trojans’ squad that ended their season at 25-8 and made it all the way to the Elite Eight before running into the brick wall known as Gonzaga.

Southern California ended their season at No. 24 in the AP Top 25 and at No.6 in the NET rankings. The Trojans have won ten of the last 13 matchups against the Aztecs, but SDSU won the last matchup during the 2011-2012 season with Xavier Thames and Chase Tapley in tow.

Nov. 30: SDSU vs Long Beach State

Believe it or not, SDSU has faced Long Beach State 60 times. The Aztecs currently hold a 38-22 advantage over the Beach. The two haven’t faced each other since 2015 when the Aztecs beat the 49ers 76-72.

Dec. 4: SDSU at Michigan

This is perhaps the biggest matchup for SDSU basketball since their matchups with the Kansas Jayhawks.

While Dutcher has been hesitant to add East Coast teams to the schedule, a trip to Ann Arbor to do battle with the Wolverines couldn’t be denied.

“I couldn’t pass up on the Michigan game,” Dutcher said. “They’re going to be ranked in the top 10, maybe top five, when we play them in and just to have that type of challenge with a veteran team.”

Michigan was ranked as high as No. 2 in the AP Top 25 and finished No. 3 in the NET rankings. The Wolverines earned a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament but their ride was stopped by UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Dec. 8: SDSU vs Cal State Fullerton

Another somewhat quick turnout after a brutal matchup against Michigan, SDSU will take on a team they have a 21-10 advantage over.

The Titans finished last year at 6-10 and seventh in the Big West conference, four places behind UC Riverside. The two teams last met in 2009 when the Aztecs, led by Leonard, squashed the Titans 82-68 at Viejas Arena.

Dec. 17: SDSU vs Saint Mary’s

The aforementioned Saint Mary’s match was a late addition to the roster that needed to be done. The Scarlet and Black will get a nine-day break for finals before heading off to Arizona to take on the Gaels at the Footprint Center, home of the Phoenix Suns.

SDSU faced Saint Mary’s last year in a neutral setting and squashed the Gaels with four players scoring in double digits. The game comes at an ideal time as players will be well-rested after taking finals, but Saint Mary’s remains a sneaky tough squad.

Dec. 22: SDSU vs UC San Diego

For 22 years, SDSU called the University of San Diego their crosstown rivals. The series was discontinued in the 2020-2021 season and UCSD was chosen as the “new” crosstown rivals.

The Tritons and Aztecs have faced each other 11 times and UCSD, who is beginning a three-year transition to Division 1, will look to get their first win against the Aztecs in hostile territory. They didn’t do so well in 2019 as the Aztecs took the Tritons for a night on the town, whooping them 86-51 in an exhibition match. 

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