No. 17 Aztecs ride new additions to comeback win over rival BYU

Clutch stops and scores power San Diego State to victory in front of a raucous crowd

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Huy Huynh

Senior forward Jaedon LeDee finishes a layup against BYU on Nov. 11.

by Justin Cox, Sports Editor

Viejas Arena was electric last Friday night as the No. 17 San Diego State Aztecs (2-0) completed a 82-75 win over rival Brigham Young University (1-1). 

The key play to seal the game for the Aztecs came with one minute remaining when the Aztecs clinged to a 76-73 lead. Senior forward Jaedon LeDee finished the and-one layup to give the Aztecs the breathing room they needed to coast to victory as senior guard Darrion Trammell hit four free throws to put the game on ice and send a raucous sell-out crowd home happy. 

The Aztecs trailed for most of the night, only leading for a total of 5:34. SDSU found itself in a seven-point hole early in the first half and spent the remainder of the game digging out of it as the Cougars seemingly always kept the Aztecs at bay. 

Early in the second half, the Cougars extended the lead to 10, but SDSU answered with a 14-2 run to tie the game at 10:29. Following the game, senior forward Nathan Mensah said the team’s confidence never wavered. 

“We all know who we are and what we are capable of,” Mensah said. “We just stayed close to them, and it was just a matter of time that we overcame (the deficit) because of the experience on our team.” 

Mensah had one of the game’s signature plays with 2:37 seconds remaining, he scored a layup to put the Aztecs up 73-70. However, after the score, BYU inbounded the ball quickly and found sophomore forward Fousseyni Traore streaking down the middle of the court for what appeared to be a wide-open dunk. Mensah, having just scored on the other end, sprinted down the court and blocked Traore’s dunk attempt from behind, preserving the three-point lead as Viejas erupted. 

“I saw (Traore) was gone and next I see is (Mensah) down there blocking the dunk,” LeDee said. “I’m used to it. That’s the type of play I’ve seen he makes all the time. I’ve seen it in practice many times so it wasn’t a surprise to me.” 

LeDee carried the Aztec offense in the first half, scoring 13 of his team high 23 points. Similar to the season-opening game against CSU Fullerton, SDSU struggled to find offensive momentum due to early turnovers and mental lapses by the starting lineup. 

The most glaring example came following a BYU basket three minutes into the game. SDSU casually inbounded the ball to junior guard Lamont Butler who was looking down the court, and senior guard Rudi Williams stole the pass and hammered home a dunk. Visibly frustrated, head coach Brian Dutcher made a quick substitution and let his starters know they had to increase their focus. 

However, when LeDee entered the game, he made it a point to attack the interior of the Cougars defense, hoping to use the Aztecs’ height advantage. 

“I’ve got a lot of big bodies and a lot of depth at (the big) position,” Dutcher said. “I think we’ve worn teams down over the first couple of games.” 

As the final buzzer crept closer and the Aztecs still trailing, it was clear another scorer outside of LeDee needed to come alive if the Aztecs hoped to send the fans home happy. Trammell answered the call scoring 16 of his 21 points in the second half to lift the Aztecs to victory. 

The three biggest points came on an isolation 3-pointer at the top of the key as Trammell crossed over to his left and then shot a contested 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired. After the game, LeDee said he was confident the Aztecs would finish the comeback. 

“When (Trammell) sauced that player at the top and hit that three, I knew from there we were going to take that game,” he said. 

The turnover battle also proved to be critical for the Aztecs as after eight in the first half, SDSU committed only two more the remainder of the game. On the other end, the Aztecs forced a staggering 20 turnovers which led to 17 points for SDSU. 

“I think our defensive pressure was good and we continue to play hard even if we don’t play great all the time,” Dutcher said. “We played hard, and we just made enough plays to get a win today.” 

The undefeated Aztecs hope to carry this momentum forward as they take on Stanford University in Palo Alto on Nov. 15 before having six days to prepare for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational that starts Nov. 21.