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No. 21 SDSU thinking big as it heads to Fresno State

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No. 21 San Diego State has sewn up its sixth straight 20-win season but is searching for more accomplishments.

First, the Aztecs will attempt to protect their lead in the Mountain West when they look to defeat host Fresno State for the eighth straight time on Wednesday night.

San Diego State (20-5, 11-2 MWC), which has won three straight games and 16 of 19, holds a one-game lead over Nevada in the conference as it eyes its third straight NCAA Tournament appearance.

The Aztecs would be looking to make it four in a row but the 2020 March Madness event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. San Diego State was 30-2 that season.

The Aztecs are 139-45 during coach Brian Dutcher’s six-season reign. He was part of the program’s turnaround as the lead assistant under Steve Fisher and he has continued to elevate the school’s basketball reputation.

In an era where schools are turning over their roster every season or two, Dutcher has kept the same philosophy that helped San Diego State change from being one of the worst programs in the country to making nine NCAA Tournament appearances since the 2009-10 campaign.

“We’re not bringing eight or nine guys in every year and trying to reinvent our culture,” Dutcher said after Saturday’s 82-71 home win over UNLV. “We have veterans that set the tone. When we sign a guy, we tell them what it is: You got to defend here or don’t come. If you don’t like playing defense, this is not the place for you. If you defend, I’ll let you have great freedom on offense, but you have to defend.

“They know what they’re getting into when they come. They’re not just told it’s going to be sunshine all the time. Work goes into it, and if you want to put the work in and you want to be part of a winning culture, then this is the place to come.”

Only two Aztecs are scoring in double digits — guards Matt Bradley (13.2 points per game) and Darrion Trammell (10.1) — but eight are averaging at least 6.9 per game.

Adam Seiko, who averages 7.3 points, led the way with 18 points and matched his career best of six 3-pointers in the win over UNLV. Bradley added 17 points.

“The ceiling’s pretty high. Everybody knows we’re the deepest team in this conference,” Bradley said. “When we get production from everybody, that’s a first-place team you’re looking at.”

Fresno State went 0-3 against San Diego State last season. This is the lone meeting in the regular season this time around.

The Bulldogs (9-15, 5-8) have dropped seven of their past 10 games after losing 77-66 at Nevada on Friday.

Fresno State coach Justin Hutson was proud of the effort if not the result.

“I thought our fight was there. I thought our pride was there,” Hutson said. “I thought we were aggressive. I thought we came to win. You just have to give credit to Nevada. They hit some big shots at the end of the game and ours didn’t quite go in.”

Fresno State has three players scoring in double digits. Jemarl Baker Jr. averages 12.0 points per game, Isaiah Hill averages 11.7, and Isaih Moore contributes 11.5 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds.

Shooting has been a problem, however — the Bulldogs rank 280th nationally in field-goal percentage at 42.6. Fresno State shot 41.4 percent in the loss to Nevada.

Overall, the Bulldogs have scored 60 or fewer points 13 times this season.

–Field Level Media

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