Aztecs Look to Rebound Against an UpStart Long Beach State

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The Aztecs were looking to win on the road at Brigham Young University last Friday Night for just the fourth time in program history. Unfortunately for this years SDSU team it wasn’t in the cards. In the last four minutes and 45 seconds of the game, the Cougars went on a 17-10 run to beat the Aztecs by a final score of 74-65. 

Coming into this season expectations have been high for the National Championship runner-up Aztecs. Games in Provo, Utah have historically always given the Aztecs fits—no matter which special team we are talking about.

On the evening, the Aztecs shot 44.8.% (26-58) from the field and only 27.8% (5-18) from three-point range. Despite BYU shooting slightly worse from the field at 42.6% (26-61), the Cougars were able to pull ahead and cruise to victory.

The difference? The home team shot 37% (10-27) from behind the arc.

In comparison to last season’s Aztecs victory, the two biggest differences is that BYU was able to out rebound SDSU and also improve from last season’s 20 turnover performance at Viejas arena.

The player of the game was BYU’s guard Dallin Hall. Off the bench, in 25 minutes the sophomore had  a team-high 18 points, three assists, and two rebounds. He shot 6-13 from the field, 4-8 from beyond the arc, and 2-3 from the charity stripe. 

In the second half, Hall really played phenomenal. Scoring 16 of his 18 points in the final half. He made some extremely difficult jumpers, both in the 2-point and 3-point variety. He even made ones in which SDSU defenders played amazing defense.  

Another great Cougar performance was from starting center Fousseyni Traore who tied with the second-most points for BYU with 12, a team-leading rebounds with 8, and also dished out 3 assists.

At times of the game he was unstoppable down low. He used his 240-pound body to get a good position for great shots and also to rebound the ball. 

Even, in defeat the Aztecs had some players who performed very well. Jaedon LeDee continued his strong start to the season with a game-high 21 points and 8 boards. LeDee’s 56.2%(9-16) from the field at times appeared very easy in his post up game as well as backing down his opponents.

Driving into the paint and making tough shots, LeDee also flashed his mid-range jumper, putting his wealth of offensive skills on display. One thing Coach Brian Dutcher is very proud of, but also admits needs to be at a 40% shot selection and 60% finding his teammates in a playmaker role.

The other Aztec who scored in double figures was guard Reese Waters. The University of Southern California transfer had 15 points in his first road appearance in the Red & Black. He shot 45.%(5-11) from the field, 33%(1-3) from beyond the arc, and knocked down all 4 of his free throws.

Waters really played well in the second half when he scored 9 out of his 13. His butter smooth shooting motion makes Reese an attractive option for consistent scoring, but making tough contested jumpers as well as driving into the paint against a difficult BYU defense really makes one wonder there is so much more to come from this USC transfer. 

A meaningful factor in the Aztecs’ loss was the sloppy play at times and the lack of depth from the bench. The Aztec offense was very stagnant at times, as only 10 out of their 26 made shots came on assisted plays. 

The Aztecs had a very hard time rebounding the basketball and they are definitely going to need to improve upon that heading into this next game against Long Beach State. BYU out-rebounded the Aztecs by 10, 42-32. Twelve of which were on the offensive side of the glass.  

Long Beach State

Long Beach State is coming off an impressive 77-73 road victory against DePaul. It was a matchup where they out-rebounded the Big East opponent 45-28 including 15 offensive rebounds.

Leading scorer Marcus Tsohonis is a VCU transfer who last season set the Long Beach State single-game record with 46 points in the team’s triple overtime win at UC San Diego. He’s going to aim for some more magic in the 619 entering to a much tougher task against SDSU.

Down on the block 6’10” 230 pound Junior transfer from Saint Louis, Lassina Traore is Long Beach State’s force on the glass. Lassina ranked 9th in the NCAA last season with 17 double-doubles and was just one of 14 players to average a double-double nationally at 12.9 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. This season after just two games he is hovering around those same marks at 10 & 9.5.

An X-Factor for Long Beach State is Aboubacar Traore. Aboubacar became the 19th player in school history to record 500 rebounds in just two seasons and currently sits 15th with 549 career rebounds.

For readers glossing over a Long Beach State team, don’t sleep on the BEACH. The Aztecs mature front court heavy team of last year prided themselves on cleaning up the boards. They will have their hands full against an opponent that has proven to be a strong willed rebounding team in their own right.

With a mature group that has several games under their belt together, fans are sure to get a fun game to enjoy between two Southern California basketball program that will be looking to push the pace.

The Aztecs’ face off against Long Beach State this Tuesday, November 14th at 7:00 pm at Viejas Arena. 

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