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’s comeback effort falls short in battle for top seed in Mountain West, 68-63

Aztecs’ cold shooting results in another road defeat, this time against the Aggies
Chinedu Nwoffiah
San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee rises for a shot through multi-man defense earlier this season at Viejas Arena. LeDee topped the 20-point plateau for the 15th time this season in the Aztecs’ 68-63 loss at Utah State on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Battling for first place in the Mountain West Conference was at stake as the No. 19 San Diego State Aztecs (20-6, 9-4 Mountain West) took on the Utah State Aggies (21-5, 9-4) on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

Road wins in the Mountain West are hard to come by, and this game was no different.

The Aztecs started 0 of 6 from the field, but their defense and rebounding kept them in the game early.

“We fought. We held them to a pretty decent point total, 68 points when they’re averaging close to 80 in here,” said head coach Brian Dutcher.

Eventually, that defense turned into offense and shots started falling, particularly for Jaedon LeDee.

Three consecutive mid-range jump shots from the leading scorer in the Mountain West gave the Aztecs a 19-17 lead with 7:17 left in the first half.

Utah State forward Great Osobor was wreaking havoc the entire game. He stuffed the stat sheet dropping 17 points, 7 boards, 7 dimes, 2 blocks and 2 steals.

Five of Osobor’s seven assists came in the first half as he continuously made great reads, either driving and spreading the ball to open shooters or finding his cutting teammates for easy buckets at the rim. A 10-3 run to close the half, fueled by back-to-back assists from Osobor, gave the Aggies a 31-26 lead at halftime.

Utah State opened the second half with a three-pointer from guard Darius Brown II (25 points) assisted by Osobor.

Tensions were rising in the second half as the result of the game became more imminent. Kalifa Sakho of Utah State and Reese Waters of San Diego State were both hit with technical fouls in the period.

A dunk from Utah State guard Ian Martinez gave the Aggies a 58-49 lead with 7:51 remaining. Just as the game seemed to be getting out of reach, LeDee took over.

Demanding the ball, LeDee earned four free throws, sinking three of them.

After the driving lanes were cut off by the Aggies, he drained back-to-back mid-range jump shots, the latter over three Aggie defenders, cutting the lead to just one with 4:48 left in the game.

However, that one-point deficit was the closest the Aztecs got in the second half.

An abundance of poor shooting, turnovers and defensive miscues in the final minutes allowed Utah State to regain control and secure the victory.

“We’re not making timely plays with the game on the line,” Dutcher said. “We’re playing well enough, but timely plays on the road are what it takes, and we haven’t made enough timely plays.”

Despite being undefeated at home this season, the Aztecs have continuously struggled on the road  against Mountain West opponents.

“We’ve got to come in ready. We started off bad again in another road game,” said sophomore guard Miles Byrd  after the game. “We have to come together as a team to sit down and figure out our issue.”

Next, the Aztecs will look to resolve their road game woes on Saturday at 7 p.m. as they take on another Mountain West opponent in Fresno State.

About the Contributor
Chinedu Nwoffiah, Photographer