Men’s hoops off to San Diego to face conference powerhouse

Tyler Meguire

You can’t win them all, and last week San Diego State sat at the top of the Mountain West with a 26-0 record. Now, thanks to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas they sit with a record of 26-1.

The Aztecs were untouchable and on the verge of perfection, but perfection is over. Here are the three things that will help the Colorado State men’s basketball team put another blemish on SDSU’s near-perfect record.

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Forget about Malachi Flynn

Malachi Flynn is the fifth-leading scorer in the Mountain West, averaging 16.9 points per game. He has totaled 457 points in 27 games played. The rest of SDSU, however, is not anything special. It is no secret that Flynn has been the leading force for the Aztecs all season.

When you take away Flynn, the Rams’ scoring compares very well to the rest of the Aztecs’ scoring. Matt Mitchell (12.4 ppg), Yanni Wetzell (11.9 ppg), Jordan Schakel (10.1 ppg) and KJ Feagin (8.6 ppg) are the next four leading scorers.

The Rams’ top five scorers are Isaiah Stevens (13 ppg), Nico Carvacho (12.5 ppg), David Roddy (11.8 ppg), Adam Thistlewood (10.7 ppg) and Kendle Moore (8.7 ppg). 

The moral of this story? Forget about Flynn. The junior guard is going to get his points. He only scored single-digit points in one game this season and has eight games at 20+ points.

If the Rams can contain the rest of the Aztecs, they will have a shot at upsetting SDSU on the road. Take a look at what happened when the Rams played against Nevada in late January. Wolf Pack’s Jalen Harris (MW leading scorer) put up 31 points in a 92-91 loss to the Rams, and Nevada had an additional three players in double figures. That is exactly what CSU needs to prevent tonight.

Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds

While playing two fewer games than the Rams, the Aztecs have averaged 0.3 more rebounds per game (35.8). The Rams have a total of 1030 rebounds to the Aztecs’ 967. If the Aztecs played two more games averaging the same 35.8, they would be eight rebounds ahead of the Rams.

Both teams are pretty equal when it comes to cleaning the glass. However, the Rams have Carvacho, who averages 10.9 rebounds per game, which is roughly four more rebounds than the Aztecs’ leading rebounder, Wetzell, who averages 6.4 rebounds per game. If the Rams can dominate the rebounding battle, it gives them a better chance at letting the Aztecs get on transition or putting up big second-chance points.

Just go out strong

There is a reason SDSU is fifth in the nation and 26-1. The Aztecs are extremely talented and dominate almost every opponent. There is also a reason CSU is tied for fifth in the Mountain West with the potential of dropping to sixth place. The Rams are young, and even after 29 games, they are still trying to figure some things out. A strong start will be key for the Rams. They’ve struggled to start games lately, heading into the second half trailing in each of their last four games. 

The Rams just need to go to San Diego and play with no fear. CSU is not expected to win this game, and SDSU is favored to do what they have done all season: dominate. The Rams have some pressure for this game but need to embrace the role of the underdog.  

The Aztecs, however, have a ton of pressure. They just dropped out of the top four in the national rankings and now sit at No. 5 after a loss to a middle-of-the-pack team (UNLV). SDSU has a tough matchup with Nevada on the road after CSU. If they lose on Tuesday, they will feel enormous pressure to not drop the final three games of the season after going 26-0 before the last week of the regular season.

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Tyler Meguire can be reached at sports@collegian.com or on Twitter @TMeguire