LAS VEGAS — For the fourth time in five seasons, albeit the first under Ryan Odom, Utah State will take on San Diego State in the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game. The Aggies and Aztecs have proven they are the two best teams in the conference right now. And while both appear to be locks for the upcoming NCAA Tournament, neither is willing to concede on the point of being conference tournament champions.
How to watch
- Tip-off: 4 p.m. MT
- Location: Thomas & Mack Center | Las Vegas, NV
- TV Broadcast: CBS
- Aggie GameDay Coverage on KVNU (102.1 FM/610 AM & KVNU mobile app): 3 p.m. MT
- KVNU Aggie Call (102.1 FM/610 AM, KVNU mobile app): Immediately after game ends
G – Rylan Jones (Undisclosed) – OUT
Jones has missed the last 17 games. Utah State has not disclosed the nature of the injury though USA Today reports the senior has concussion-like symptoms. No timetable has been provided for a return.
San Diego State
No injuries reported
Utah State (26-7, #3 Seed)
- G – Steven Ashworth (6-1, Jr.) – 16.3 points | 3.4 rebounds | 4.7 assists
- G – Max Shulga (6-4, Jr.) – 12.1 points | 4.5 rebounds | 4.0 assists
- G/F – Sean Bairstow (6-8, Sr.) – 10.5 points | 5.1 rebounds | 2.6 assists
- F – Taylor Funk (6-9, Gr.) – 13.2 points | 5.4 rebounds | 1.7 assists
- C – Trevin Dorius (7-0, Sr.) – 6.1 points | 3.8 rebounds | 0.2 assists
- 6th Man – Dan Akin (6-9, Gr.) – 12.1 points | 6.8 rebounds | 0.9 assists
San Diego State (26-6, #1 Seed)
- G – Darrion Trammell (5-10, Sr.) – 9.7 points | 2.2 rebounds | 3.4 assists
- G – Lamont Butler (6-2, Jr.) – 8.7 points | 2.5 rebounds | 3.2 assists
- G – Matt Bradley (6-4, Sr.) – 12.8 points | 3.8 rebounds | 2.2 assists
- F – Keshad Johnson (6-7, So.) – 7.8 points | 5.2 rebounds | 0.6 assists
- F/C – Nathan Mensah (6-10, Sr.) – 6.4 points | 5.8 rebounds | 0.6 assists
Team Statistical Ranks
Stats and ratings are from Basketball Reference (except the NET ranking). All ranks are out of 363 Division I teams.
- Pace – 69.2 (133rd)
- Offensive Rating – 114.3 (12th)
- Defensive Rating – 101.0 (161st)
- Field Goal % – 48.6 (16th)
- 3-point % – 40.4 (2nd)
- Rebounding % – 53.0 (47th)
- NET Rank – 18th
San Diego State
- Pace – 66.6 (268th)
- Offensive Rating – 107.8 (99th)
- Defensive Rating – 95.1 (34th)
- Field Goal % – 44.9 (171st)
- 3-point % – 36.0 (85th)
- Rebounding % – 53.3 (41st)
- NET Rank – 15th
This game is one of the primary goals the Aggies have been playing for. Every day, every practice has been a buildup to this game.
“It’s the championship game, and it’s what we’ve been working for all summer,” Steven Ashworth said. “We say it every single breakdown that we want to be playing for the Mountain West Championship, and we know how good this league is and how much of an accomplishment that is already, but we’re not just happy to be here. We have something still to prove and we know how great they are and we know that we’ve got to play our best basketball.”
“These guys had a goal over the summer to compete for a championship in the Mountain West,” Ryan Odom said. “That’s why they lifted weights. It’s why they worked so hard to become a connected group, and they worked on their individual games.”
San Diego State swept Utah State in the regular season with a double-digit, 85-75 win in California and then a close 63-61 win in Logan. It’s a daunting task for the Aggies to break that trend, but it also may be comforting to know that in years past the Aztecs swept them in the regular season only to lose to USU in the conference title game. In the 2019-20 season, SDSU beat the Aggies twice, both times by nine-plus points, and Utah State beat the Aztecs in the title game.
The enormous challenge ahead of Utah State will be the defensive prowess of the team ahead of it. Boise State was no slouch on that end, but San Diego State is winning games almost solely with its defense right now. Over the last four games, SDSU may not have scored 67 points, but not team has scored more than 66 against them, with the Aztecs’ opponents averaging 56.5 points in the last four outings. San Jose State, boasting the conference’s Coach of the Year and Player of the Year, were just held to 49 points by SDSU.
A low-scoring affair is likely in order. And likely a contest worthy of what’s been an exciting Mountain West Tournament so far this March.