Three observations: Aztecs improve to 3-0 after 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University

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Three observations: Aztecs improve to 3-0 after 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University

Senior forward Yanni Wetzell finishes a dunk in the Aztecs' 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University at Nov. 13 at Viejas Arena.

Senior forward Yanni Wetzell finishes a dunk in the Aztecs' 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University at Nov. 13 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Senior forward Yanni Wetzell finishes a dunk in the Aztecs' 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University at Nov. 13 at Viejas Arena.

Sam Mayo

Sam Mayo

Senior forward Yanni Wetzell finishes a dunk in the Aztecs' 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University at Nov. 13 at Viejas Arena.

by Kyle Betz, Assistant Sports Editor

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San Diego State men’s basketball improved to 3-0 with a 86-61 win over Grand Canyon University on Nov. 13 at Viejas Arena. The game marked the Aztecs’ first-ever win over the Lopes dating back to 1980.

Here are three observations from the game.

GCU played tough defense from the beginning

From a defensive standpoint, GCU started the game with high energy by double-teaming the Aztecs. However, SDSU’s offense was efficient enough to combat those efforts.

Senior guard KJ Feagin said SDSU was able to adjust to the Lopes’ defensive efforts after the first timeout of the game.

“We know starting the game, each team wants to get the first punch in. We know the first five minutes, each team was kind of feeling each other out and we were trading baskets,” Feagin said. “After our first TV timeout, I think we were in control the rest of the game.”

Halfway through the first half, the Aztecs went on a 9-0 run which led them to finish the half with a 40-24 lead.

“The way they were defending us, it was everybody’s night, it felt like,” Feagin said. “I’m glad that we were mature enough to not be selfish and continue to share the ball.”

Indeed, the Aztecs shared the ball. 11 different Aztecs players scored, while 25 baskets were assisted.

SDSU finished the half shooting 50% from the field and ended the game tallying 54.7%.

“When you have 35 baskets and 25 assists, you’re playing the right way,” Dutcher said.

In terms of those assists, that’s what impressed Dutcher the most.

“We can make adjustments to try to put people in better positions to score,” Dutcher said. “Overall, offensively, we shared the ball as well as we have all year.”

3-point shooting success continues

The Aztecs had no issue keeping up their 45% performance from the 3-point line against BYU on Nov. 9.

In fact, they did better this time around.

Feagin and junior guard Malachi Flynn went 3-for-5 each beyond the arc, while junior forward Matt Mitchell made two of his four attempts.

Contributions from these three, as well as sophomore guard Adam Seiko, freshman forward Keshad Johnson and junior guard Jordan Schakel helped the Aztecs shoot 13-for-27 from the 3-point line (48.1%).

Schakel, who came off a career-high 3-point shooting performance against BYU, only made one 3-pointer.

He only scored five total points but was limited to just six minutes in the first half after collecting two fouls early on.

“He got two fouls and I didn’t want to put him in there risk him getting a third foul in what could be a first game,” Dutcher said. “But we were able to maintain the lead, and when he did play, all we were doing at that point was trying to build and maintain our lead.”

But because of the way the game flowed, Dutcher said it gave other players opportunities to shoot from deep.

“Everybody’s going to have a different night on this team, we’ve got a lot of talent,” Dutcher said.

Focus on the little things

SDSU started off strong from the paint, as Mensah had back-to-back dunks and senior forward Yanni Wetzell followed up those efforts with back-to-back layups for the Aztecs’ first eight points of the game. 

“I feel like my point guard put me in the right place at the right time to get ahead,” Mensah said. “It was the right time to get the energy to boost our team.”

Another important statistic in the paint is rebounds, which the Aztecs have executed well through its first two games of the season.

SDSU entered the game as the fifth-leading rebounding team in the country.

“I wanted in their mind that rebounding is important to what we do, so I challenged them in that way to say, ‘Is that number real? Are we that good of a rebounding team?’,” Dutcher said.

The Scarlet and Black continued its rebounding success, outboarding the Lopes 37-32.

SDSU eventually finished the game with 38 points in the paint compared to GCU’s 16.

The Aztecs only committed seven turnovers – a significant improvement compared to when they turned the ball over 14 times against BYU.

On the other side, the Aztecs were able to turn 12 GCU turnovers into 16 points.

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