Aztecs sweep season series against Wyoming to tie best start in program history at 20-0

Junior+guard+Malachi+Flynn+goes+for+a+floater+in+the+lane+during+the+Aztecs%27+72-55+win+over+Wyoming+on+Jan.+21+at+Viejas+Arena.
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Aztecs sweep season series against Wyoming to tie best start in program history at 20-0

Junior guard Malachi Flynn goes for a floater in the lane during the Aztecs' 72-55 win over Wyoming on Jan. 21 at Viejas Arena.

Junior guard Malachi Flynn goes for a floater in the lane during the Aztecs' 72-55 win over Wyoming on Jan. 21 at Viejas Arena.

Kareem Jones

Junior guard Malachi Flynn goes for a floater in the lane during the Aztecs' 72-55 win over Wyoming on Jan. 21 at Viejas Arena.

Kareem Jones

Kareem Jones

Junior guard Malachi Flynn goes for a floater in the lane during the Aztecs' 72-55 win over Wyoming on Jan. 21 at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Sports Editor

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The 2010-11 Kawhi Leonard-led San Diego State men’s basketball team is widely regarded as the best in program history — a team that finished 34-3 with an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament.

That team started a program-best 20-0.

The current 2019-20 Aztecs?

They also started 20-0.

No. 4 SDSU (20-0, 9-0 Mountain West Conference) — along with the matching the longest winning streak in program history of 20 games — has officially tied its best start in school history when the clock hit triple zero in a 72-55 win over Wyoming on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena.

Aztecs head coach Brian Dutcher says it’s an honor to be in the same company as those great teams in the past.

“I just told them it’s a tremendous honor to be compared to such a great team, but this team has its own identity and its own goals,” Dutcher said. “It feels good but like they said, they don’t have banners for going 20-0, only for conference championships. We’re trying to win a Mountain West title, and that’s our goal right now.”

It might just be that it’s Dutcher’s job to keep his team grounded and sweep those praises aside.

Whatever the case may be, the players feel the same way as the coach of the nation’s only undefeated team.

There’s no banner for going 20-0.

“I think that’s great in our ability to have and be up there,” junior forward Matt Mitchell said. “But we don’t get a banner for being 20-0, so we have got to keep pushing.”

Junior guard Malachi Flynn said the 2010-11 team accomplished greater things than starting 20-0, and that’s what he intends the Aztecs to do as well.

“It’s good we’re up there with arguably the best team here,” Flynn said. “They didn’t stop there. They went on to the Sweet Sixteen, so we got a lot more work to do to even be in that conversation with that team.”

Back on Jan. 8, the Aztecs went into elevation in Laramie and defeated the Cowboys 72-52. Three Aztecs scored in double figures: Flynn scored 19, senior forward Yanni Wetzell scored 17 and junior guard Jordan Schakel scored 11.

On Tuesday night, SDSU also scored 72 points, but this time four Aztecs hit double figures. Flynn had 18, Wetzell had 14 and Schakel once again had 11. Mitchell added 15 points.

The Aztecs shot 25-for-46 (54%) overall and 9-for-20 (45%) from deep, displaying another efficient offensive performance. Collectively, they are more offensively efficient than they were last year (43% shooting overall and averaging 71 points per game).

This season, they are shooting 46% from the field and are averaging 74 points per game.

“I think our spacing is just great. The coaches did a great job with our offense of setting it up. As players, we just fully bought in from the summer,” Mitchell said of the improvement on offense. “Nobody is selfish on this team. We all want everyone to shine.”

Notable: Sophomore forward Aguek Arop went into the locker room with about 13 minutes left in the game.

From the looks of it, he appeared to have grabbed his right shoulder — the injury that kept him out of action for over a month.

Arop was just in his fourth game back since returning against Boise State at home on Jan. 11.

However, according to Dutcher, Arop told the team he was fine after the game. Dutcher said he has yet to talk to Sergio Ibarra, the team’s athletic trainer.

The team is off Wednesday, so expect an update on Arop in the next couple days.

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