Aztecs jump out to early lead, topple BYU 90-81 at home

Sophomore+forward+Matt+Mitchell+throws+up+three+fingers+after+knocking+down+a+shot+from+behind+the+arc+during+the+first+half+of+the+Aztecs+90-81+victory+over+BYU+on+Dec.+22+at+Viejas+Arena.+Mitchell+finished+with+22+points.+
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Aztecs jump out to early lead, topple BYU 90-81 at home

Sophomore forward Matt Mitchell throws up three fingers after knocking down a shot from behind the arc during the first half of the Aztecs 90-81 victory over BYU on Dec. 22 at Viejas Arena. Mitchell finished with 22 points.

Sophomore forward Matt Mitchell throws up three fingers after knocking down a shot from behind the arc during the first half of the Aztecs 90-81 victory over BYU on Dec. 22 at Viejas Arena. Mitchell finished with 22 points.

Abraham Jewett

Sophomore forward Matt Mitchell throws up three fingers after knocking down a shot from behind the arc during the first half of the Aztecs 90-81 victory over BYU on Dec. 22 at Viejas Arena. Mitchell finished with 22 points.

Abraham Jewett

Abraham Jewett

Sophomore forward Matt Mitchell throws up three fingers after knocking down a shot from behind the arc during the first half of the Aztecs 90-81 victory over BYU on Dec. 22 at Viejas Arena. Mitchell finished with 22 points.

by Breven Honda, Staff Writer

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San Diego State men’s basketball defeated Brigham Young University, 90-81, on Saturday evening at Viejas Arena.

Senior guard Devin Watson and sophomore forward Matt Mitchell led the way for the Aztecs (7-4) scoring 23 and 22 points, respectively. Watson also added a game-high eight assists.

“Devin’s so smart. He can play the game any way it needs to be played,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “If he gets hot, he can score the ball, but he can also get his teammates involved.”

At the end of the first half, Mitchell led all scorers with 18 points on 70 percent shooting.  

“I had the opportunity to be aggressive,” Mitchell said. “When the right play was there to make, I feel like I made that play.”

Dutcher said he told the team to keep its momentum by focusing on the play at hand.

“We continued to share the ball on offense and get stops on defense,” Dutcher said. “We talked a lot about concentrating throughout a game. Not losing the concentration, knowing their going to make some plays, not dropping your head, not raising your hand, just move on to the next play and that’s a sign of maturity.”

Senior guard Jeremy Hemsley added 14 points and sophomore guard Jordan Shackel added 12 points and a game-high eight rebounds.

“(Jordan) hit some big threes,” Dutcher said. “You don’t notice Jordan until you look at the film and see he is in the right place at the right time.”

The Aztecs applied full court pressure from the start of the game and took advantage of 18 turnovers committed by the Cougars, which led to 27 points for SDSU.

The Aztecs focused on being able to play proficient both offensively and defensively.

“We are trying to prove that we can do it on both sides of the ball,” Watson said.

Although it has been 2,857 days since the Cougars (8-6) last played at Viejas Arena, the coaches and the fans know what this meeting means more than the players.

“Felt like old times today…I want to thank the fans for coming out,” Dutcher said. “I told the players before the game, the fans know more about this rivalry than you do because they have been have there to sit through it.”

The Aztecs have now won the past three meetings against BYU, however the win was SDSU’s first against the Cougars at Viejas Arena since Feb. 23, 2008.

“It’s a rivalry when they beat you nine times in a row. Now we got three in a row. That’s the kind of talk that keeps the rivalry going,” Dutcher said.

Cougars guard TJ Haws led the way for BYU scoring 18 and five assists.

The Aztecs are back on the floor on Dec. 29 to face the University of Brown, the second ever meeting between the two schools.

“I’m going to enjoy Christmas, but Brown is 8-4,” Dutcher said.

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