Aztecs take down Boise State with 72-64 victory


Photo by Sam Mayo

Senior forward Malik Pope throws down a dunk during the Aztecs 72-64 victory over Boise State on Feb. 27 at Viejas Arena

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball came into Tuesday night needing a win to keep pace in the hunt for the fifth seed – and a first round bye – in the Mountain West Conference tournament.

Mission accomplished.

The Aztecs rallied from a nine-point first half deficit, and controlled the majority of the second half in a 72-64 victory over Boise State University (22-7, 12-5 MW) at Viejas Arena.

With its fifth win in a row SDSU now sits alone in the fifth seed for the Mountain West Conference tournament – one-half game ahead of Wyoming – with a conference record of 10-7.

“I told our guys I’m so proud of the way they’ve come together down the stretch,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “That’s when you want to be playing your best basketball, early March.”   

Redshirt freshman forward Jalen McDaniels led four Aztecs players in double figures, finishing with 15 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double double.

“We’ve always had high confidence in ourselves but now that we’re rolling… I feel like our confidence is high and we’ve just got to keep it like that, stay together and just play hard,” McDaniels said.

Back in January senior guard Chandler Hutchison torched the Aztecs for 44 points, in an 83-80 win at Boise.

This time around the Aztecs were able to limit Hutchison to 18 points, on four of 14 shooting.

“We really want to emphasis defense, we just won four in a row we wanted to win five,” junior guard Devin Watson said. “We had to stop Hutchison…  and I think we did that tonight and I think we did it well.”

Watson (13 points, four rebounds, three assists), senior forward Malik Pope (12 points six rebounds) and freshman forward Matt Mitchell (11 points, three rebounds, three assists) all joined McDaniels in double figures.

It was Pope’s first game back since he was provisionally suspended over the weekend, after his name showed up in documents that alleged he received loans during his sophomore year from an NBA agent.

Pope received a raucous ovation when he was introduced before the game, and came out firing, making his first three field goal attempts.

Pope said that the support from the fans meant a lot.

“It was a beautiful feeling,” he said. “I already knew that SD is just amazing but just knowing that they had my back regardless was just a great great great sense of urgency to get into the game.”

Next up for SDSU is a visit from the University of Nevada, who come in for the regular season finale on March 3.