Three observations from SDSU’s season opener against Texas Southern 

Junior+guard+Malachi+Flynn+attempts+to+dribble+past+the+Texas+Southern+defender+during+the+Aztecs%27+77-42+victory+on+Nov.+5+at+Viejas+Arena.
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Three observations from SDSU’s season opener against Texas Southern 

Junior guard Malachi Flynn attempts to dribble past the Texas Southern defender during the Aztecs' 77-42 victory on Nov. 5 at Viejas Arena.

Junior guard Malachi Flynn attempts to dribble past the Texas Southern defender during the Aztecs' 77-42 victory on Nov. 5 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Junior guard Malachi Flynn attempts to dribble past the Texas Southern defender during the Aztecs' 77-42 victory on Nov. 5 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Junior guard Malachi Flynn attempts to dribble past the Texas Southern defender during the Aztecs' 77-42 victory on Nov. 5 at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball scored 20 unanswered points in the first half to eventually notch a 77-42 victory over Texas Southern on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena. The win marked SDSU’s fourth consecutive win over the Tigers, including last season’s 104-63 victory. Here are three observations in the Aztecs’ victory. 

 

1. 3-point party in the first half led by Schakel

They said SDSU was a party school, but tonight was a different kind of party on campus. 

It was a party from distance inside Viejas as the Aztecs shot 9-of-17 (52%) on 3-pointers against the Tigers in the first half.

Senior guard KJ Feagin, junior guard Malachi Flynn, junior forward Matt Mitchell, freshman forward Keshad Johnson and junior guard Jordan Schakel joined in on the fun.

Thanks to the hot shooting in the first half, SDSU went on to score 20 unanswered points, including nine from beyond the arc.

“It’s always devastating when you can make threes at a high clip like that,” Schakel said. “We have a lot of good shooters on this team. When you move the ball like that, it’s bound to happen.”

Schakel led the way shooting 4-of-5 from distance for a total of 15 points on seven shots – missing only two shots in 23 minutes. Those four 3-pointers tied a career high.

He started off scorching hot with 11 points in nine minutes, shooting 4-for-4 from the field including three 3-pointers made. 

With the game seemingly out of reach after halftime, Schakel did not get the opportunity to topple his career high of 16 points, which came in a 103-64 win against Texas Southern at home a year ago. 

Schakel only logged one shot attempt after halftime and his career high remains at 16 points and four 3-pointers made.

“Sometimes that’s just how the game goes,” he said of the second half. “Hopefully I can save that (hot shooting) and bring it on Saturday (against BYU) because we’re going to need it.”

 

2. Head coach Brian Dutcher goes 13-deep with his bench

Aztecs head coach Brian Dutcher utilized his bench in a way that should not be expected moving forward against tougher opponents. 

It’s safe to say that a 35-point win has something to do with Dutcher playing 13 men tonight.

However, it wasn’t like a sea of reserves came in late in the second half during garbage time.

Dutcher brought his tenth player to the floor when sophomore forward Aguek Arop subbed in with 8:49 left in the first half.

Dutcher said he plans on playing more guys this season due do the defensive strategy he wants to implement.

“I think we’ll play more players this year,” Dutcher said. “We’re pressing. We’re (defending) 94 feet the entire game. That wears the other team down, so if I’m asking these guys to pick up and press, that’s a lot of work. So I’ll go to the bench.”

Though Dutcher added he won’t play 11 guys, but he also won’t play tired legs.

“As the season goes on, I want to play guys who are producing on the floor,” he said.

With about seven minutes into the game, the first two subs Dutcher brought in were Mitchell and junior guard Trey Pulliam. 

Of all the transfers who arrived on the Mesa this season, Pulliam seemed to have been overlooked by players like Flynn, Feagin and senior forward Yanni Wetzell.

While he may not be in the starting five such as those guys, the Navarro College transfer brought the ball up the court as the primary ball handler for the second unit.

Dutcher said Pulliam serves as the backup point guard whose best ability is handling the ball and running the offense when Feagin isn’t running the point.

 

3. Malachi Flynn shows off his scoring 

After an atypical shooting night from junior guard Malachi Flynn (eight points on 2-of-7 shooting) in the exhibition against UC San Diego last Wednesday, the transfer showed Viejas Arena a glimpse of what is to come.

Flynn had more recognizable statline of 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting and 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.

“I felt good, just trying to get into a rhythm, continue to be aggressive. Eventually, they’re going to fall,” said Flynn, who played in his last regular-season game 20 months ago. “I think just getting out there being more comfortable. Just another game feel, just continue to do that, I think it’ll help.”

As someone who averaged 15 points per game at Washington State his sophomore year, Flynn is just getting started on the Mesa.

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