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

No. 4 SDSU improves to 23-0 with 80-68 comeback victory over Utah State

Kareem Jones
Junior forward Matt Mitchell drives down the lane during the Aztecs’ 80-68 win over Utah State on Feb. 1 at Viejas Arena.

No. 4 San Diego State men’s basketball won its second contest of the season against Utah State with a 80-68 win on Feb. 1 at Viejas Arena.

Kawhi Leonard’s jersey retirement ceremony took place at halftime, but it almost seemed like it became junior forward Matt Mitchell’s night after Leonard’s ceremony concluded.

“I’m not surprised,” senior guard KJ Feagin said of Mitchell’s performance. “We have a group of guys that are all talented and we’re all just sacrificing for the team. He got us going and he willed us to the win tonight.”

Mitchell scored just four points in the first half when the Aztecs were down by eight at the break but took over in the next 20 minutes.

He fueled a second-half comeback by scoring 24 points.

“My teammates found me,” Mitchell said. “I just felt like I was wide open sometimes.”

Mitchell fell three points shy of his career-high (31) — all while inspiring 10-0 and 7-0 runs in the second half.

Maybe it was because Mitchell wanted to impress Leonard who are both Inland Empire natives.

“He’s the biggest idol next to Reggie Miller in the Inland Empire,” Mitchell said. “There’s definitely a significance there, me having a big night on Kawhi’s big night. That’s definitely very special.”

Viejas was booming after Mitchell nailed back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers in less than two minutes to give the Aztecs a 50-49 lead with 13:16 left.

Head coach Brian Dutcher said he noticed Mitchell’s improvement against the Aggies.

“Matt was rolling,” Dutcher said. “You can see his growth. He’s so much more balanced when he attacks now.”

It truly was a tale of two halves.

The Aztecs led by as much as seven halfway through the first half.

The Aggies then clawed their way back to go on a 14-0 run.

SDSU was scoreless for seven straight minutes.

Entering halftime, the Aztecs were in an unfamiliar position, down 39-31.

But the second half was a different story.

It eerily replicated SDSU’s 83-73 win over Iowa earlier this season.

In that game, the Aztecs were down by nine at halftime but dropped 51 second-half points.

Despite the Aggies leading the Aztecs in points in the paint (28-14), second-chance points (10-8) and bench points (11-5), the Scarlet and Black prevailed.

SDSU was able to do that thanks to the 3-pointers – shooting 9-for-19 in the second half.

Feagin said the Aztecs had to make halftime adjustments to impose their will.

“We just came in at halftime and we admitted that we weren’t making them play our brand of basketball,” Feagin said. “We came out in the second half and fed off the energy of the crowd and we made them play our game.”

The Aztecs now have a week off before hitting the road to play Air Force next Saturday.

About the Contributors
Kyle Betz
Kyle Betz, Sports Editor
Kyle Betz is a fourth-year journalism student at SDSU and 2020-21 marks his fourth year reporting for The Daily Aztec. The Lake Forest, Calif. native has covered numerous sports as a writer, editor and media contributor. An avid fan of the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Lakers, Manchester United and Anaheim Ducks, Kyle enjoys watching and attending sporting events, listening to music, going to the beach and spending time with friends and family in his free time.
Kareem Jones
Kareem Jones, Staff Photographer
Kareem is in his fourth year at San Diego State University where he studies Journalism with an emphasis in Media Studies. He is a sports staff writer and photographer for The Daily Aztec and has experience covering a variety of sports such as football, men and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, and women’s lacrosse. He is also a contributor for As a photographer, Kareem enjoys telling stories through his images, painting the perfect picture for his audience. He loves sports and has aspirations on working for ESPN in the future. Follow Kareem on Twitter @noblee_k, Instagram @noblee.k and/or his photography Instagram page @flicksbyreem to stay tuned on his future endeavors.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
No. 4 SDSU improves to 23-0 with 80-68 comeback victory over Utah State