Written by Michael Huling
On Tuesday, the San Diego State men’s basketball team improved to 25-0 with an 82-59 victory over New Mexico State. It was a competitive game until the Aztecs pulled away late, outscoring the Aggies 36-19 in the final 14 minutes. SDSU remains the only undefeated team in Division I or Division II.
SDSU’s star point guard Malachi Flynn had 15 points and 8 rebounds to go with his 4 steals. He has been the team’s leader this season, averaging 16.4 points, 5 assists, and 4.1 rebounds, and 1.8 steals. Flynn is not the Aztecs’ only dominant player, however. Matt Mitchell and Yanni Wetzell have been very good this season, and both dominated against New Mexico State. Mitchell had 22 points and 12 rebounds, while Wetzell had 20 points and 9 rebounds. SDSU’s three-headed attack has led them to their best season in school history, and they’ll rely on Flynn, Mitchell, and Wetzell to lead them deep into the NCAA tournament.
Tuesday’s win also gave the Aztecs the Mountain West Conference (MWC) title, though they have dominated the conference all season. This is the first time they have won the MWC since the 2015-2016 season, when they finished 28-10. While the Aztecs were decent that year, they never cracked the top-25 rankings. By contrast, SDSU has been ranked in the top 10 since the first week of January and has been ranked fourth for nearly a month.
At first glance, the Aztecs are a defensive team with just enough offensive firepower to win tough games. The evidence for this is the fact that the team has only given up 58.4 points per game, which ranks fifth in the nation. Their offense has put up 76 points per game, which is 65th. However, the analytics tell a slightly different story on the offensive end. The metrics “Offensive Rating” and “Defensive Rating” calculate how many points a team scores (or gives up) per 100 possessions. Using this metric, the Aztecs offense ranks fourth while their defense is still a very solid eighth.
The moral of the story is that the Aztecs are a well-rounded team on both ends of the court, with the kind of talent, athleticism, and shooting (seven players shoot better than 36% from three-point range) needed to make a run at a national championship. While the tournament is notoriously an unpredictable crapshoot with upsets that no one can expect, better teams still have the advantage come March. If the first 25 games of the season show anything, it’s that the Aztecs are one of the best teams in the country.