Column: Ranking the five best games from SDSU’s historic 2019-20 season

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Kareem Jones

Junior forward Matt Mitchell completes a tomahawk dunk over Lobos junior guard Keith McGee.

by Brandon Freed, Staff Writer

The San Diego State men’s basketball team had arguably its best season in program history. The Aztecs were able to accomplish their best regular season with an overall record of 30-2 and Mountain West Conference record of 17-1 — the best in conference history. At one point in the season, SDSU was able to reach the milestone of being ranked as high as No. 4 in the AP Top 25 Poll. The team had many games throughout the year where they established how great of a team they truly were. Here are the top five games of the year:

5. Nov. 29, 2019: SDSU defeats Iowa, 83-73
The Aztecs took down Iowa and took home the trophy as the Las Vegas Invitational Champions. Prior to this game, in the match-up before against currently ranked No. Creighton, SDSU had an impressive win, defeating the Bluejays by 31 points. Winning the nationally-televised game against Iowa made the college basketball world recognize what a great team the Aztecs were and potentially deserved a spot being ranked in the AP Top 25. The Aztecs had a 16-point comeback to win the game led by junior guard Malachi Flynn’s 28 points, which were all scored in the second half.

4. Feb. 11, 2020: SDSU defeats New Mexico, 82-59
Although the game wasn’t close, fans left Viejas Arena ecstatic knowing their Aztecs clinched the Mountain West regular season title. The atmosphere in the arena was electric as fans rushed the court and witnessed the players and coaching staff cut off the netting on the hoop to celebrate their achievement. This was their 12th MWC title in program history. The last time the Aztecs clinched the title was back in the 2015-16 season, when they finished with a conference record of 16-2 and 28-10 overall. Winning the MWC also played a big role in Flynn winning the MWC Player of the Year and Brian Dutcher securing the MWC Coach of the Year honor.

Aztecs head coach Brian Dutcher cuts the nets after defeating New Mexico for the Mountain West regular-season title on Feb. 11 at Viejas Arena. Photo by Kareem Jones.

3. Dec. 8, 2019: SDSU defeats San José State, 59-57
This was a hard-fought game for the Aztecs. By no means was this the cleanest game the Aztecs played, but they still found a way to come away with the victory. For the season, the Aztecs shot 46.8% from the field and 38% from three. But in this game alone, they shot just 31% from both the field and beyond the arc. Flynn sealed the deal for the Aztecs after hitting a game-winning 3-point shot with 0.9 seconds left. The last time the Aztecs hit a game-winner was back in 2014 when Dwayne Polee hit a clutch 3-point shot against Boise State to seal the victory 67-65.

Junior guard Malachi Flynn hits a game-winning 3-pointer to give the Aztecs a 59-57 victory over San José State on Nov. 8 at Viejas Arena. File photo.

2. Feb. 1, 2020: SDSU defeats Utah State, 80-68

The win for the Aztecs was just the cherry on top for what happened that night. Fans didn’t sell out Viejas Arena to only watch their Aztecs, but attended the event to witness history. At halftime, SDSU honored Leonard, a current Los Angeles Clipper and two-time NBA champion. Leonard had his No.15 jersey retired that night and became the first player in school history to get his jersey hung from the rafters. Members of the Clippers organization, including owner Steve Ballmer, head coach Doc Rivers and all-star Paul George attended the event to show support

 

 

1. Jan. 26, 2020: SDSU defeats UNLV, 71-67
This was a very emotional game for both the Aztecs and Running Rebels as both teams dealt with the tragedy of losing Kobe and Gianna Bryant, and the other seven victims who died in the helicopter crash earlier that day. Despite their emotions, the Aztecs fought hard and were able to come away with the victory against a hungry Running Rebels team and a very hostile crowd in the Thomas and Mack Center. With the win, the Aztecs were able to make history and break their own record for the greatest start in school history with a perfect 21-0 record. They topped the 20-0 start set by the 2010-11 basketball team led by Leonard. At this point in the season, the Aztecs controlled the map and were still the nation’s only remaining undefeated team.

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