Before the San Diego State men’s basketball team can focus on another postseason run, the No. 22 Aztecs get an opportunity to correct a past misstep.
San Diego State will oppose New Mexico on Saturday night in a Mountain West Conference game at Albuquerque, N.M.
The Lobos are one of two teams to beat the Aztecs in conference play this season, pulling out a 76-67 victory on Jan. 14 in San Diego.
San Diego State (22-5, 13-2 MWC) has since won nine of 10 games to maintain a one-game lead over Boise State for first place in the conference standings with three games remaining.
“We’re rolling at this time,” Aztecs guard Darrion Trammell said. “San Diego State always gets better around this time. They look their best right now and going into March. We know that, and it’s the approach we have every day in practice.”
New Mexico (20-8, 7-8) has long been a thorn in San Diego State’s side.
The Lobos have an all-time record of 49-43 against the Aztecs, making them the only Mountain West team with a winning record against San Diego State.
Three of the top seven scorers in the Mountain West play for New Mexico.
Jamal Mashburn Jr. leads the conference with a scoring average of 19.6 points per game, while Jaelen House (16.8) and Morris Udeze (15.9) also average double figures in scoring.
House scored a season-high 29 points in the victory against San Diego State last month, which snapped the Aztecs’ 16-game home winning streak.
The Lobos have made the fewest 3-pointers in the conference (162), which plays into San Diego State’s strengths.
The Aztecs lead the conference in 3-point defense at 28.7 percent.
“I just feel like we’re a hard team to beat if you don’t make a lot of threes because we’re hard to score on around the basket,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “Tough twos are a hard way to win a game in the half-court. I’m proud of our effort and I think we’re getting better. That’s the key to Aztec basketball.”
San Diego State doesn’t have a player averaging more than 13 points, but the Aztecs have got eight who average 6.7 points or better.
Team basketball has been important to their success. Believing there’s always room for improvement has been key to their gradual improvement this season.
“We preach the message,” Dutcher said. “If the team believes in you and believes in the message, you’ve got a chance to be successful. That’s a trademark of our program. They buy in. They believe that. They believe we can get better, so they do.”
Jaedon LeDee is the latest San Diego State player to step up his game.
He scored a team-high 14 points off the bench in a 77-58 win against Colorado State on Tuesday, the third different leading scorer in the past three games for the Aztecs.
“I keep asking them, ‘Do you believe we can go to a higher level?'” Dutcher said. “And they all say we can.”
–Field Level Media