Three observations in SDSU’s 86-51 exhibition win over UCSD

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Three observations in SDSU’s 86-51 exhibition win over UCSD

Fans got their first look at transfer junior guard Malachi Flynn during the Aztecs' 81-56 exhibition win over UCSD on Oct. 30 at Viejas Arena.

Fans got their first look at transfer junior guard Malachi Flynn during the Aztecs' 81-56 exhibition win over UCSD on Oct. 30 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Fans got their first look at transfer junior guard Malachi Flynn during the Aztecs' 81-56 exhibition win over UCSD on Oct. 30 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Fans got their first look at transfer junior guard Malachi Flynn during the Aztecs' 81-56 exhibition win over UCSD on Oct. 30 at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Sports Editor

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In San Diego State men’s basketball first game of the season, the Aztecs’ talent overpowered the Division II UC San Diego. The game was more about testing players to see how they look in live-game action, SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher said before the exhibition. It wasn’t so much about how SDSU won by 35 points, but rather, how the 2019-20 Aztecs looked for the first time. Here are three observations in SDSU’s 86-51 victory over UCSD on Wednesday night at Viejas Arena.

1. First look at transfer Malachi Flynn who showed his passing ability

It wasn’t a “leading the Mountain West in scoring” type of debut, but junior guard Malachi Flynn did other things well.

Although he shot only 2-of-7 from the field and scored eight points, Flynn grabbed nine rebounds and led the team with seven assists.

With seeing first game action since the 2017-18 season (sat out last year due to NCAA transfer rules), Flynn said he is adjusting to Division I basketball again.

“I wouldn’t say nerves, but definitely it’s different,” Flynn said of playing in Viejas Arena for the first time. “I haven’t played a game in almost two years… but I think I’ll be back in (the flow) real quick.”

UCSD did throw multiple defenders at Flynn, so Dutcher said he was impressed with Flynn’s ability to find teammates.

“Malachi already has that feel. They pay attention to him and he ended up with seven assists,” Dutcher said. “I was really encouraged with Malachi’s playmaking ability.”

As for Flynn’s shot, Dutcher said that is nothing to be worried about.“The shot, I’m not concerned about at all, Dutcher said. “He’ll have games where he’ll get on fire, and he won’t miss very many.”

2. Freshman Keshad Johnson can do more than just dunk

Freshman forward Keshad Johnson came to the Mesa known for his ability to jump out of the gym with high-flying dunks – just check his Instagram page.

Johnson showed Wednesday he can do more than that.

The Oakland native took his first steps on a collegiate court six minutes into the game. Two minutes later, Johnson showed off his range by knocking down a 3-pointer in the left corner.

Johnson led SDSU with 12 points on 3-of-5 shooting and hit all four of his free throws – all in a matter of 17 minutes.

Dutcher said Johnson showed at times that he is still a freshman.

“A lot of times you look up he’s in the wrong place offensively and defensively, but yet he found a way to score 12 points,” Dutcher said. “As he finds his rhythm with what we’re doing, I think he’ll get better after every game.”

Johnson seems like he earned some minutes in SDSU’s regular-season opener against Texas Southern on Nov. 5 at Viejas Arena.

Maybe Johnson will dunk Tuesday instead.

“He didn’t (dunk), but you’ll see some of those though, don’t worry,” Flynn said.

3. Slimmer Matt Mitchell comes off the bench

Junior forward Matt Mitchell’s first basket against the Tritons was a layup six minutes into the game. Mitchell drove left, made a quick spin move and laid the ball up on the right side of the basket.

While it was just two points, this was a play that may not have been seen often when Mitchell was about 20 pounds heavier last season.

Mitchell looks quicker and lighter when driving into the lane.

“I definitely feel better – quicker, more agile, more athletic,” Mitchell said. “I’m loving how I feel right now.”

It even seems like Mitchell needs a smaller jersey that fits him. It is noticeable Mitchell’s jersey fits – even when tucked all the way in – a bit looser than it did the last time he was seen in uniform back in March.

Over the offseason, Mitchell cleaned up his diet and dedicated himself to get in top-notch shape for the season.

Though he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his meniscus that caused him to miss about six weeks of practice, Mitchell is on his way back to getting his basketball legs beneath him.

Dutcher said Mitchell’s fitness had to do with him coming off the bench.

“You can see his game legs aren’t back yet,” Dutcher said. “He’s just got to get himself in a little better game conditioning, so he can play in longer stretches.”

Still, Mitchell logged 16 minutes and scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting (2-of-3 from distance).

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