San Diego State's nation-leading streak of 13 consecutive victories on the road came to a screeching halt in Thursday's 57-45 loss at Utah State, but the Aztecs may have lost something far more important than a winning streak. Leading scorer and senior leader Matt Mitchell left the game with 5:47 remaining after an apparent knee injury, casting a sense of uncertainty over Saturday's rematch and the rest of SDSU's season.
If Mitchell cannot return soon for San Diego State (9-3, 3-2 Mountain West), the Aztecs' hopes of repeating as conference champions might be dashed. Even if Mitchell gets cleared, SDSU faces an uphill battle in the league, as evidenced by Utah State's dominant defensive effort on Thursday. The Aggies (9-3, 6-0) held San Diego State to just 31.5% shooting and forced 16 turnovers to remain unbeaten in league play.
To reduce travel amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mountain West and many other conferences are pitting teams against each in other in back-to-back games. That means these two defensive stalwarts and Mountain West favorites will tangle again, less than 48 hours after the conclusion of their first meeting that Utah State coach Craig Smith described it as a "rock fight."
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- When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum in Logan, Utah
- TV: CBS | Live stream: CBSSports.com, CBS Sports App (Free)
- OTT: CBS Sports App (Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, Chromecast)
San Diego State: The Aztecs have developed a flair for the dramatic this season, especially over the past two Saturdays. Two weeks ago, they gave up a 26-point lead and allowed Colorado State to complete a record-breaking comeback victory. Then, last week, they were on the right end of a thriller when Trey Pulliam banked in a runner at the final buzzer for a 69-67 win over Nevada. With wins over UCLA and Arizona State in non conference play, SDSU is on the right side of the bubble at the moment, according to CBS Sports Bracketology expert Jerry Palm. But Mitchell's status looms large over the rest of the season.
Utah State: Utah State rose from No. 57 to No. 47 in the NET rankings following its win against San Diego State on Thursday. But completing the sweep would go a long way toward putting USU on the right side of the NCAA Tournament bubble after a 1-3 start. The Aggies are unquestionably trending in the right direction, having won nine in a row since the rocky start. But the majority of those wins have been against lowly competition. Defense is the calling card for this team, and junior center Neemias Queta leads the way. The 7-footer is blocking 2.7 shots per game and pulling down 9.4 rebounds. He's also Utah State's leading scorer at 12.4 points per game.
Game prediction, pick
Defense never slumps, and Utah State's defense looks like the best in the Mountain West to this point. So long as Queta stays out of foul trouble, the Aggies should be able to handle business at home against this mercurial San Diego State team. The Aztecs have shown flashes of brilliance but have been too inconsistent to bet on, especially with Mitchell's status uncertain. Prediction: Utah State 64 San Diego State 56
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