Sports

Aztecs grind out one other win over Fresno State, enhance to 18-0


Your transfer, Auburn.

Seventh-ranked San Diego State moved to 18-Zero and remained considered one of two undefeated groups in Division I with a tough, gritty, walk-it-up, grind-it-out 64-55 victory at Fresno State on Tuesday night time, finishing a cruel stretch of highway video games that took them over a mountain cross in Utah, to the excessive plains of Wyoming after which to the Central Valley on brief relaxation.

Now the Aztecs come dwelling and get to look at No. 5 Auburn, the opposite unbeaten, sweat it out on the highway at Alabama (Wednesday) and Florida (Saturday). When SDSU hosts Nevada on Saturday night time at Viejas Enviornment, it could possibly be the nation’s solely staff with a Zero within the loss column.

“I’m leaving the hotel and Clemson beats Duke, and it’s a road game (for Duke),” coach Brian Dutcher mentioned. “It’s so hard to win on the road in college basketball. I told the guys: ‘Enjoy every one of these. What you’re doing is not easy. It’s the hardest thing in basketball. You’ve got a perfect record on the road – that’s unheard of. And you’re doing it against teams that now know you’re ranked and bring their best effort.’”

This was the sport that Dutcher and his workers feared probably the most, figuring out what it got here after and figuring out {that a} hungry, wholesome Fresno State staff had a full week to arrange in comparison with one full follow for SDSU, figuring out it was in a constructing the place the Aztecs had been 1-Four of their final 5 journeys.

May the gamers sense that?

“Definitely,” Yanni Wetzell mentioned. “We were all on edge a little, obviously with bragging rights and (Fresno State coach Justin Hutson) being at San Diego State before. It’s always going to be a battle between Fresno and San Diego State as long as these coaches are there. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We knew it was going to be a dog fight.”

And it was all of that inside six minutes to go, with the Bulldogs closing to 6 and people followers who confirmed up on the Save Mart Middle for the eight p.m. tip on their ft roaring.

However identical to that, the momentum flipped. The magic returned. The mojo continued.

Malachi Flynn drew a foul on a 3-pointer and made all three free throws – remaining excellent from the road in 2020. Then Flynn fired a 50-foot cross to 6-foot-10 Yanni Wetzell, who had beat everybody down the ground and spun in a reverse layup. Then Flynn snuck behind Fresno State ahead Orlando Robinson for a steal and a fast-break layup.

That pushed the margin to 13, and a veteran Aztec staff capturing 83 % from the road away from dwelling wasn’t going to let win No. 18 slip away.

“That was big,” mentioned Flynn, who got here 5 seconds in need of enjoying all 40 minutes. “It was a close game and we just needed an extra boost. After that, we kind of knew the game was over. We’re not going to just stop playing, but that was pretty much it.”

It wasn’t their most stunning or most dominant win, however perhaps their most brave – approaching an evening once they didn’t have an offensive rebound for the primary 30 minutes, went Three of 18 behind the 3-point arc, received zero factors from Jordan Schakel for the primary time all season and seemed like they missed sidelined middle Nathan Mensah.

Flynn had 22 factors on 7 of 14 capturing and seven of seven from the road, which means he has now made all 25 makes an attempt within the new 12 months. Wetzell additionally shot 7 of 14 and had 17 factors. Matt Mitchell had 10 factors earlier than fouling out.

Fresno State (5-12, 1-5) received 18 factors from ahead Orlando Robinson, bolstering his case for Mountain West freshman of the 12 months. New Williams added 15, however Nate Grimes, Noah Blackwell and Jarred Hyder had eight collectively – 24 below their mixed averages because the Bulldogs (36.Four %) grew to become the 13th Aztecs opponent this season to shoot below 40 %.

The sport went the way in which you anticipated between two defensive-minded teaching staffs that had performed 13 days earlier. They knew one another’s performs, and the counters, and the counters to the counters.

Neither staff led by greater than 5 factors in a primary half through which Fresno State shot 28.6 % and SDSU was 2 of 12 behind the arc. The Aztecs had a 26-21 benefit on the break as a result of its protection was barely extra suffocating, permitting the Bulldogs to attain on solely three of their 15 ultimate possessions and not one of the final eight.

Fresno State’s 55 factors had been its fewest at dwelling in seven seasons.

“You have to love the game to enjoy that game,” Dutcher mentioned. “A lot of defense. Points were hard to come by.”

The Fresno State staff that SDSU confronted on New Yr’s Day at Viejas Enviornment, although, seemed completely different than the one on the ground Tuesday night time. The Bulldogs began their 11th completely different beginning lineup after getting again Grimes and Blackwell off the injured record (though each had been on minutes restrictions) however then shedding Aguir Agau to a concussion.

The Bulldogs additionally had a well-known face sporting No. 5. Sophomore guard Jordan Campbell initially deliberate to be sporting an Aztecs uniform, committing to SDSU out of Adelanto Excessive two years in the past after being mentored by fellow Excessive Desert product Jamaal Franklin. “Glad to be a part of a family I was kinda born in,” he tweeted on the time.

Campbell requested for a launch from his letter of intent when the coaches who had primarily recruited him had been employed at Fresno State within the spring of 2018, Hutson as head coach and Tim Shelton as his assistant. He went to Oregon State as a substitute, lasted six video games, transferred to Fresno State on the semester break and performed in his first sport final week at New Mexico.

Tuesday, he scored seven fast factors after subbing in for the primary time and completed with 11 on 5 of 15 capturing – the most recent sufferer of SDSU’s protection.

“Hats off to them,” Hutson mentioned. “They’re a very good defensive team.”

“This might be the smartest team I’ve ever seen,” Dutcher mentioned. “I imply, we don’t make many errors. You search for and say: ‘What did they do wrong at the defensive end? What mistake did they make? Who did they lose for a wide-open shot? Who got a layup?’

“We don’t give any of these up. Something you get in opposition to us is tough. This staff is simply so locked in defensively, it’s only a pleasure to teach them.”

Notable

SDSU can match the 2010-11 staff’s 20-Zero begin (and the 2013-14 staff’s 20-game win streak) with dwelling wins in opposition to Nevada and Wyoming. No. 21 would come at UNLV on Jan. 26 … After capturing over 50 % in its final three video games, SDSU managed 47.1 % – nonetheless barely above its season common getting into the day (46.9 %) … SDSU and Auburn are additionally the one unbeaten groups this season in highway/impartial video games. Third-ranked Duke was 7-Zero earlier than shedding at Clemson … Save Mart Middle has grow to be Schakel private home of horrors. He has failed to attain in all three profession video games there …

Dutcher went with a nine-man rotation, however nominally. Flynn, Wetzell, Mitchell and KJ Feagin all performed 30-plus minutes. The one individual with double-digit minutes off the bench was Trey Pulliam with 12 … Blackwell was enjoying for the primary time since Dec. 7 and had two factors, one help and three turnovers in 19 minutes … Fresno State had 52 factors and shot 34.6 % within the first assembly. Tuesday, they’d 55 factors and shot 36.Four % … The Bulldogs gained the battle of the boards, however barely: 32-31. They’d 10 offensive rebounds, three fewer than at Viejas Enviornment enjoying with out Grimes … The introduced crowd was 6,773 (which appeared beneficiant).



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Mark Zeigler

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