San Diego State continues its trek through college basketball’s western conferences as the Aztecs make the trip north to Palo Alto to face the Stanford Cardinal on Tuesday, November 15. The PAC-12 foe follows the Aztecs’ opening wins over the Big West’s Cal State Fullerton Titans and West Coast Conference’s BYU.
While SDSU opened the season with two home wins, Stanford has split its games versus Pacific, a home win, and Wisconsin, a loss in a game played outdoors at the Milwaukee Brewers’ home field.
The Cardinal return eight of its top nine rotation players from last year including leading scorer Spencer Jones. The 6’7” senior forward, picked for the all-conference second team before the season, sat out his team’s first game, but returned for the contest against the Badgers scoring eight points, grabbing four rebounds, and adding four blocks in the team’s 60-50 defeat.
On offense, the Cardinal were paced by Brandon Angel’s 14 points and Michael Jones’ nine against Wisconsin.
Jones, a sweet-shooting guard transfer from Davidson, is the first graduate transfer in Stanford program history. He displayed his offensive prowess in Stanford’s opener against Pacific when he poured in 31 in the 88-78 win.
On the boards, 7’1” French import Maxime Raynoud leads the way with 7.5 rebounds per game through the season’s opening two games. Raynoud added 22 points on 9 of 11 shooting in an impressive overall performance against Pacific.
Stanford, picked to finish fifth in the PAC-12 preseason poll, will present another early-season challenge to the 19th-ranked Aztecs. For the Red & Black to stay undefeated, it will need to continue to develop rhythm offensively while tightening its defense, especially on the perimeter.
The Aztecs took care of business against BYU, here are three keys how they can do the same and come away victorious against Stanford:
Contain Stanford’s Shooters
It’s easy to look at Stanford’s 1 of 16 three-point shooting performance against Wisconsin and figure the Aztecs can pack it in the paint and dare the Cardinal to shoot from outside. Not so fast. That would completely ignore where the game took place – outside in a major league baseball stadium.
Long-time Aztec fans will recall a similar shooting performance by the home team when SDSU played and lost to USD outdoors at Petco Park in 2015.
In its opener, Stanford shot 60.4% overall and hit 8-22 from behind the three-point line. The Aztecs gave up nine three-pointers to BYU, many at critical moments. They cannot allow Stanford’s shooters clean looks from the perimeter or this could be much closer than necessary.
Feed the Beast
Jaedon LeDee has been a beast inside the paint for the Red & Black early in his SDSU career. The TCU transfer led the team with 23 points, most of them on low post power moves, against BYU.
The muscular 6’9” senior is averaging 17 points and five rebounds through two games. Can LeDee continue his impressive start for the Aztecs when faced with the Cardinal’s crew of big men Harrison Ingram, James Keefe, Brandon Angel, and Raynoud?
It will be interesting to see if LeDee can have a repeat performance. But even if the stats don’t pencil out exactly the same, LeDee’s big presence should be a huge factor that Stanford will have to account for.
Get Bradley Going
Matt Bradley shouldered much of the scoring burden in his first season with the Aztecs last year. Now, he has more offensive talent around him, and yet his production at the start has been uncharacteristically low.
Named to the preseason all-conference first team, Bradley has yet to find his offensive rhythm working alongside Seattle transfer Darrion Trammell. Bradley is averaging only seven points a game in 2022 on 22% shooting.
For the Aztecs to reach the heights they’ve envisioned for this season, their senior scorer needs to regain his form from last season when he led the team at nearly 17 points a game, with a career-high 30 in a road game at Wyoming.
If Bradley can be the offensive force his history says he is, this team has the potential to light up the scoreboard from inside and outside. Arguably the victory over BYU is never even a close contest if Bradley & the Aztecs are hitting on all cylinders.
The game against Stanford tips off at 6:00 pm on Tuesday, November 15, and can be seen on the PAC-12 Network and heard on the official SDSU flagship radio station at San Diego Sports AM 760.