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 stops SJSU, 72-64, stays within half a game of first place

LeDee led the way with his 11th double-double on a wild night in the Mountain West as the No. 20 Aztecs remained unbeaten at home
Daniel Vasquez
San Diego State forward Jaedon LeDee battles through the San José State defense during the Aztecs 72-64 win over the Spartans on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Viejas Arena. LeDee finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds, becoming the first Aztec to record 11 double-doubles in a season since Jalen McDaniels in 2018-2019.

While stuffing the stat sheet has been standard in a remarkable season for Jaedon LeDee, one play against San José State perfectly encapsulated his impact all over the court for the Aztecs.

With a second-half San Diego State lead — as large as 17 points, trimmed to five with 5:21 to play — the senior forward stepped up to help Lamont Butler on the defensive perimeter, trapping Spartan top-scorer Myron Amey Jr. LeDee cleanly swiped the ball and broke ahead of the pack for a two-hand, transition jam punctuated with a foul and an and-one.

A sign held up by one of the students in The Show said, “Watch out for LeDeefense.”

Watch out, indeed.

The No. 20 Aztecs (22-7, 11-5 Mountain West) used a strong defensive first half to build a seven-point lead over SJSU (9-20, 2-14) at the break, then closed out a 72-64 win on Tuesday night at Viejas Arena.

“I think we’re trending up right now and everything we’re doing in terms of defense, and rebounding and playing together — connected,” LeDee said.

On the same day he was announced as part of the final watch lists for both the Oscar Robertson Trophy as national player of the year and All-America by the United States Basketball Writers Association, LeDee recorded his 11th double-double of the season with game-highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds.

The Aztecs needed him to pull the cart, as the other four starters went a combined 7 of 23 for 19 points. Elijah Saunders came off the bench to score 10 points, including cutting to the basket on a busted play for a back door slam off a feed from Darrion Trammell with less than a minute to go that proved to be the decisive score.

Trammell’s eight assists were the most he’s recorded in scarlet and black and a big part of SDSU’s assisting on 18 of their 25 field goals. Micah Parrish had 9 points and Butler added 7 points.

“Lamont had some open ones that didn’t go in, Micah had some open ones that didn’t go in, I thought Darrion turned down some open looks,” said head coach Brian Dutcher. “We’re playing the right way, we’re sharing the ball.

San Diego State forward Elijah Saunders throws down a jam against San José State on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at Viejas Arena. Saunders scored in digits (10 points) for the fifth time in his career.

Still, the second half never felt out of control for the Aztecs. The Spartans hung in it thanks to nine 3-pointers, including making 5 of 16 in the second stanza and many with hands in the face. Amey Jr. scored 11 of his SJSU-best 17 points in the final frame, with five of his six buckets coming from beyond the arc.

“(SJSU) made tough threes to stay in the game,” Dutcher said. “I think the only thing we might be able to control a little better was they had a couple of putbacks late when they missed a shot… That might have been more controllable, but some of the shots they were taking and making were really hard shots.”

SDSU won the rebounding battle 40-31 and controlled the paint to the tune of a 40-30 scoring edge. The bench doubled up 26-13 and the transition game led to a 10-2 advantage.

Considering how wild the rest of the night was around the Mountain West Conference, another relatively close win over the Spartans suited the Scarlet and Black just fine.

First-place Utah State needed a banked right-wing sideline 3 in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime at Fresno State, where they eventually won. Nevada got a half-court buzzer-beater to snatch a win at Colorado State.

“We’re fortunate it didn’t happen to us, but we played good basketball today,” Dutcher said.

Through it all, the Aztecs remain half a game back of first place, trailing Utah State and Boise State (both 11-4 in conference) while holding a half-game lead over Nevada and UNLV (both 10-5).

As SDSU heads into its final bye of the season this weekend, Saunders remembered the flat performance at Colorado State coming out of their first bye in late January.

“We need to be more prepared this time,” Saunders said. “Just keeping our foot on the pedal, even though we have a bye week, it’s not just time to kick your feet up and relax, still get some work done.”

Up next for San Diego State is their final road game of the season at UNLV on Tuesday, March 5 at 8 p.m. The home finale will be Friday, March 8 at 7 p.m. against Boise State in a “white-out” game, where the Aztecs will have the chance to clinch their first DI season unbeaten at home.

“We know what time it is — it’s March by that time,” LeDee said. “ We’ve got to stay consistent… we’re still working, we’ll take care of our bodies but we’re still gonna put work in.”

About the Contributors
Eric Evelhoch, '23-24 Sports Editor
Eric Evelhoch (he/him/his) is a senior media studies major who was born outside of Detroit, Michigan, and lived in Ventura County, California, for a decade-plus. He is a returning college student and transfer from Santa Barbara City College, where he served as Sports Editor for The Channels. Evelhoch is also a Sports Director for KCR College Radio, where he restarted play-by-play coverage post-pandemic. Currently, he serves as the play-by-play broadcaster for the SDSU ACHA DI hockey team and has filled in on the call for Aztecs sports on the Mountain West Network. His prior freelance experience includes print, digital, online video and audio-only, and broadcast radio formats covering football, basketball, baseball, hockey, soccer and volleyball.
Daniel Vasquez, Photographer