San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Men’s basketball corrals the Rams 77-58 in a balanced team win

Aztecs maintain sole possession of first place in the Mountain West with three games to go
Noelani Sapla
Senior guard Matt Bradley drives to the hoop in a game versus New Mexico on Jan. 14, 2023.

The San Diego State men’s basketball team cruised to a 77-58 win over Colorado State Tuesday night at Viejas Arena as contributions from up and down the roster powered the Aztecs to victory.

Five different players on the roster scored in double figures to keep the Aztecs in sole possession of first place in the Mountain West Conference. Senior forward Jaedon LeDee finished with a team-high 14 points and six rebounds. 

Following the win, head coach Brian Dutcher said his team is rounding into shape as the postseason approaches. 

“We’re comfortable knowing each other’s strengths now,” Dutcher said. “They know where they want the ball and how to get it to them and that’s what makes us dangerous offensively.” 

After the close road win against Fresno State last Wednesday, the Aztecs had six days to prepare for the Rams. The extra rest and recovery showed early as the Aztecs were ready to play from the jump, swarming Colorado State ball handlers and forcing four turnovers in the first five minutes. 

The only issue with the aggressiveness was senior forward Nathan Mensah was tagged with two quick fouls that landed him on the bench after only three minutes of play. With Mensah in foul trouble and the Aztecs trailing 4-3, the Aztecs responded with back-to-back and-ones by senior guard Matt Bradley and junior guard Lamont Butler to give the Aztecs an early 9-4 lead. 

Head coach Brian Dutcher turned to his two bench bigs, senior forwards Jaedon LeDee and Aguek Arop, to shoulder the load inside against a small Colorado State team. In the first 11 minutes of action without Mensah on the court, the two combined for 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting to push the Aztec lead to 26-16. LeDee led the Aztecs with 10 first-half points as Dutcher had the luxury of resting Mensah for the rest of the half. 

“Most teams in the country couldn’t survive that when your starting center goes out two minutes into the game,” Dutcher said. “We’re deep and dangerous at that center position.” 

Another key bench contributor in the first half was junior guard Micah Parrish. In 11 first-half minutes, he scored six points and secured two steals as the Aztecs entered the locker room with a commanding 41-26 lead. 

The Aztecs’ last two points of the quarter came unconventionally as senior guard Isaiah Stevens tripped over a referee. As Stevens hit the floor, Arop grabbed the ball, was fouled at the rim, and hit two free throws to close the half. 

Arop’s effort game in and game out is noticed as members of SDSU’s fan section, The Show, had “Aguek Arop” painted on their chests in what is becoming a normal sight at Viejas. His effort is noticed by more than just the fans. 

“AG’s energy every night is great,” LeDee said. “He gives me the energy to go and he’s out there doing the things that may not be in the box score but makes us great.” 

Two key first-half stats were the turnover and free throw disparity. The Aztecs forced 10 turnovers while only giving up two and shot a near-perfect 13-14 from the line. The Rams only managed three free throws in the half. 

After a quiet first half, Bradley came out of the locker room aggressively. He scored 10 of the Aztecs’ first 11 second-half points on a perfect 4 of 4 from the field while hitting two contested threes in the first four minutes to put the Aztecs up 52-32 and the game out of reach. The Rams outscored the Aztecs 26-25 in the last 16 minutes of the game as SDSU cruised to a fifth straight victory and its ninth in the last 10. 

The Aztecs’ starting backcourt junior Lamont Butler and senior Darrion Trammell dictated the pace of the game by running the Aztec office and pressuring Colorado State. The two did a good job making things tough for Stevens, the Rams’ best offensive player, by pressing, trapping and throwing different looks at Stevens. 

“He’s gonna bring it,” Trammell said. “We take pride in that to make sure we keep (players like Stevens) below their averages.” 

In the first matchup against the Rams on Jan. 18, Stevens had 16 points and 11 assists but the second time around, Stevens finished with 15 tough points and only two assists. 

Next, the Aztecs will hit the road as their next two games are at New Mexico State on Feb. 25 and at Boise State in a battle of the Mountain West’s top two teams on Feb. 28.

About the Contributors
Justin Cox
Justin Cox, '22-23 Sports Editor
Justin Cox (he/him) is a senior journalism major from Sonoma, California. He is excited to be a Co-Sports Editor of The Daily Aztec for the 2022-23 academic year. Previously, Cox was a sports section staff writer covering a multitude of Aztec sports including basketball, water polo, soccer and tennis. He is excited to head the sports section alongside Co-Editor Morgan Prickett with the hopes of providing fresh and engaging content for the student body. Before coming to The Daily Aztec, Cox spent time as an intern for the Sonoma Index-Tribune covering local news and was also published in the Sonoma Sun newspaper. Cox can often be found watching sports, running or going to the beach in his free time. 
Noelani Sapla
Noelani Sapla, Staff Photographer, '21-22 Photo Editor
Born and raised in San Diego, Noelani is a graduate student at San Diego State University working towards a masters degree in education. She joined the Daily Aztec staff as the photo editor for the 2021-2022 year, and is currently a staff photographer. She credits the Daily Aztec for the experience and opportunities to cover the NCAA tournament in Houston where the men's basketball team played in the national championship game. While having a degree in education and teaching, Noelani's dream is to become a professional sports photographer.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Men’s basketball corrals the Rams 77-58 in a balanced team win