Aztecs set to face Fresno in MW Tournament quarterfinals


Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Senior guard Trey Kell drives the ball during the Aztecs 77-73 loss to Fresno State on Jan. 17 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball is set to face off against Fresno State University in the quarterfinal round of the Mountain West Conference Tournament held in Las Vegas on March 8.

SDSU finished the regular season with a record of 19-10, and earned the fifth-seed in the MW tournament – and the first-round bye that comes with it – with a conference record of 11-7.

The Aztecs currently have a season-long six game winning streak, and will look to stay hot against fourth-seeded Fresno (21-10, 11-7 MW), which has beaten them twice already this year.

“They seem to have our number, but we’ll make a few adjustments,” head coach Brian Dutcher said of the Bulldogs. “(We’ll) take a little bit better care of the ball this time than we did at their place, have (senior guard Trey Kell) back on the floor and hopefully be able to beat a really good Rodney Terry team in Vegas.”

Kell was out with a sprained ankle during the Aztecs 79-61 road loss at Fresno on Feb. 6, and Dutcher said that he is ready for his senior to make an impact this time around.

“You put the ball in (Kell’s) hands and he makes the right play,” Dutcher said. “He just seems to make the right play at the right time. We’ll give him the opportunity to do that in Vegas, and if he does we’ll continue to play for awhile.”

Kell was named the MW Player of the Week after averaging 12.5 points and 6.5 assists during the Aztecs last two victories over Nevada and Boise State.

Kell said that the key to playing in the tournament is to keep your composure and not take any plays off.

“Every possession is key, so you can’t just have those plays where you slack off or have a mental lapse,” Kell said. “You’ve got to stay locked in for every possession because you never know what possession or what run is going to be the one to decide the game.”

The Bulldogs are led on offense by junior guard Deshon Taylor (18 points per game) and sophomore guard Bryson Williams (13.5 points per game), but will be without their usual starting point guard in senior Jaron Hopkins.

Hopkins was averaging 11.4 points per game before being lost for the season due to a foot injury against Wyoming on Feb. 24.

The winner will advance to play the victor of the quarterfinal matchup between No. 1 Nevada and No. 8 UNLV.