Men’s basketball cracks Top 10 in latest AP Poll, ranks seventh in nation


Sam Mayo

Aztecs senior guard KJ Feagin brings the ball off the court during a 59-57 win over San José State on Dec. 8 at Viejas Arena.

by Aaron Tolentino, Sports Editor

San Diego State’s 2010-11 men’s basketball team, led by Kawhi Leonard, is widely regarded as the best in program history.

With an AP Poll ranking as high as sixth, an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and a program-best record of 34-3, that team is remembered as arguably the greatest SDSU has ever had.

*the 2019-20 Aztecs have entered the chat*

The latest AP Top 25 Poll released Monday has the Aztecs at No. 7 – the second highest ranking in program history – after being ranked No. 13 last week.

That’s the highest ranking the Aztecs had since March 10, 2014 when it was No. 8 and finished with a Sweet Sixteen appearance.

Do the current Aztecs want to be compared to teams that have reached the Sweet Sixteen?

Head coach Brian Dutcher said his players would want to be even better.

“I think if you ask them, they want to go further than that,” Dutcher said. “We’ve always told kids when we recruited them: dream of going to a Final Four.”

A 15-0 record and fresh off a road win at Utah State has garnered talks of potentially being as good, if not better, as those Sweet Sixteen teams.

The Aztecs (15-0, 4-0) won in what is likely their toughest game remaining on their schedule, even without their best interior defender in sophomore Nathan Mensah who is dealing with a respiratory issue. The Aggies (13-4, 2-2) came into the season as Mountain West favorites and a No. 17 AP Poll ranking.

No. 7 SDSU climbed six spots after losses coming from previously No. 4 Oregon (now No. 9), No. 7 Louisville (now No. 13), No. 9 Memphis (now No. 21) and No. 10 Villanova (now No. 16).

“It puts us on a national map, which I love,” Dutcher said of cracking the top 10. “But we’re not caught up on it where it’s going to affect our performance.”

With two fifth-year seniors as starters in guard KJ Feagin and forward Yanni Wetzell, Dutcher attributes the Aztecs’ play this season to the veterans they have on their squad.

“The reason why we’re where we’re at is because we are experienced,”  he said. “I’ve said it since the start of the year. I wanted an experienced team, so we can have a really good November and December. That worked out, and now we’re carrying that experience into the conference season.”

Junior guard Malachi Flynn adds to the team’s experience after two seasons at Washington State and a redshirt year last year.

He said focus is on the next game because one sloppy performance can easily drop the Aztecs out of the top 10.

It’s good to crack the top 10,” Flynn said. “Definitely nice, but me personally, I don’t try to think about it too much. I’m just trying to get one game at a time because I know if you lose one, you could drop all the way down in the rankings.”

Cristian Alvarez contributed to the reporting of this article.