Sports Out West

Utah State vs. San Diego State: Aztecs must respect the game

Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images

Nearly a month ago, San Diego State defeated Mountain West rival Utah State, 74-69 (OT) at the Aggies’ home court. Senior guard Xavier Thames scored 31 points, 10 in overtime to lead the Aztecs to their 17th straight win. This time however, the Aggies will come to the Viejas Arena, a first since 1998 and 16 seasons. 

San Diego State has won 11 consecutive home games. The most recent was a 64-56 win over Air Force on Saturday, after their 20-game win streak ended at Wyoming. The conference loss dropped San Diego State to No. 6/7 who are 22-2 overall and 11-1 in the Mountain West. 

Utah State had a win streak of it’s own come to a halt as well, a 73-62 loss at UNLV on Saturday that ended the Aggies’ three-game rally. Utah State is now 15-10 overall and 5-8 in Mountain West. However, Aztecs head coach Steve Fisher feels Utah State is playing better this season compared to last in the MWC. 

“Utah State is playing as well as any of the (Mountain West’s) top four or five teams. They struggled out of the gate, but right now they’re playing really good basketball. They have more set plays that they execute than anybody in the country. They run set play, after set play, after set play, and they’re really good at it.” 

The Aggies lead the Mountain West in three-point field goal percentage (41.4%), rebounding margin (+7.0), and assists per game (16.7).  Senior guard, Preston Medlin ranks second in the conference in assists per game (4.4) and assists-turnover ratio (3.0). Medlin has a career total of 1,299 points thus far and ranks fifth all-time at Utah State with a 41.3 percentage in three-point shooting (ranked fourth overall in league). The Aggies’ other wing player, senior guard/forward Spencer Butterfield ranks eighth in three-point field goals made. 

But Utah State’s offense may not be enough to keep up with the defense of San Diego State. The Aztecs lead the conference in steals per game (7.42) and ranks second in both blocks per game (5.79) and defensive rebounding per game (25.7). Offensively, the Aztecs are only rebounding 13.5 per game. Expect to see “X-man” Thames, who was recently named one of the 23 finalists for the 2014 Bob Cousy Collegiate Point Guard of the Year Award to be a high scorer as San Diego State’s scoring leader (ranking third overall in the MWC) averaging 17.7 points per game with a team-high of 2.8 assists per game. 

Tipoff is tonight at 8:05 PM (PST) and is nationally televised by ESPNU. 

Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images

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Laramee Bishop

Laramee Bishop is a sports journalist hailing from San Diego. She currently works as a producer and editor at NFL Network in Los Angeles. Her previous line of work includes: U-T San Diego, U-T TV, Quiksilver, and TransWorld Media.