Men’s basketball topples Air Force in one-sided affair, wins series

Senior+guard+Terrell+Gomez+%28front%29+and+senior+forward+Matt+Mitchell+run+up+the+court+during+the+Aztecs+72-62+loss+to+Brigham+Young+on+Dec.+18+at+Viejas+Arena.+Mitchell+scored+a+career-high+35+points+in+the+losing+effort.

Kyle Betz

Senior guard Terrell Gomez (front) and senior forward Matt Mitchell run up the court during the Aztecs’ 72-62 loss to Brigham Young on Dec. 18 at Viejas Arena. Mitchell scored a career-high 35 points in the losing effort.

by Kyle Betz, Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball followed up its fourth-largest Mountain West Conference road victory with another blowout win, 91-59, Sunday at Clune Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The Aztecs (11-3, 5-3 MWC) didn’t score 98 points this time, but were led by senior guard Jordan Schakel (24 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists) and a season-high in 3-point shooting (16).

Another win? Getting senior forward Matt Mitchell back on the court after he suffered a right knee hyperextension on Jan. 14 against Utah State.

Mitchell wore a brace during the game and said he felt no pain. It didn’t look like it impacted him much anyways: he notched 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 14 minutes off the bench.

Head coach Brian Dutcher said he expects Mitchell to have his minutes increased during the team’s next series.

“We want to get his game timing back and that’s very important to the success of his team,” Dutcher said. “Hopefully (his game minutes) will grow, where those minutes will go up as we head into (playing) Wyoming this coming weekend. It’s really good having Matt back.”

Mitchell was inactive the past week-and-a-half, sitting game one of the series versus the Falcons (4-10, 2-8 MWC). Mitchell said scouting from the bench Friday and coming on from a bench role tonight helped him learn more about Wyoming’s zone defense.

“I had to know that I had to be ready to go some sort if I planned on playing the second game,” Mitchell said. “So I definitely picked up a little bit on little spots you could find in their zone — maybe a little weaknesses they had here and there.”

Speaking of, the Aztecs’ bench scored 39 of the team’s 91 points. In the first eight minutes of the game, the Falcons’ bench had no points while the Aztecs’ unit scored 15.

Leading that group alongside Mitchell was junior guard Adam Seiko, who scored nine points in the first eight minutes of the game (3-for-3 from the 3-point line).

That 3-point run brought instant momentum for the Aztecs, as their lead was extended to 20-9 with 12:30 left in the first half. The Scarlet and Black ended the game cashing in on 48 points from beyond the arc on 53.3% shooting.

Schakel said confidence and getting to the open spot on the floor gave the Aztecs ability to shoot accurately from range.

“I think just confidence and we have a lot of good shooters,” Schakel said. “Adam started the game extremely hot… We were just able to knock them down.”

Senior guard Terrell Gomez continued the 3-point party by knocking down five, shooting 5-for-9 — all from distance.

Much of Schakel’s scoring success came from deep as well. He was 6-for-13 from 3-point range.

During Schakel’s four-year career, the Aztecs are 34-5 when he scores 10 or more points in a game.

“(Gomez) gets Jordan (Schakel) open,” Mitchell said of Gomez and Schakel. “Everybody knows he’s a big-time shooter and he’s the best shooters in the nation just as Jordan (Schakel) is.”

Dutcher said turning to the bench was a direct result of the Aztecs playing at more than 7,000 feet in altitude.

“Even during shootaround today I thought certain guys were struggling, and so we went to the bench quick. We played maybe three or four minutes stents for most of the guys. It was just a great team effort today.”

Up next…

After two road series at elevation, the Aztecs will shortly return to San Diego to face Wyoming in a two-game series beginning on Jan. 28 and Jan. 30.

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