The San Diego State Aztecs are the unquestioned king of the Mountain West.
“They just blitzkrieged us,” Boise State coach Leon Rice said after an 83-65 loss to the Aztecs on Saturday. “They’re undefeated for a reason.”
The Aztecs also whipped Wyoming 72-52 last week to finish the week 17-0 overall and 6-0 in the Mountain West. San Diego State, No. 1 in the latest Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings, has won its six conference games this year by an average of 13.3 points.
“We tried to help out on the post a little bit,” Rice said, “and whack, whack, whack. Three threes.”
Malachi Flynn had 19 points, six assists and three threes to help the Aztecs whip Boise. Flynn, who averaged 15.8 points and 4.3 assists a game for Washington State in 2017-18, now leads the Mountain West with 5.1 assists a game. He is also averaging 16.3 points a game on 81 percent free throw shooting and 43 percent on threes.
“It all starts with Malachi,” said Rice, whose Broncos are ranked No. 5. “He gets going downhill and he’s so shifty and smart with the ball. He’s a handful. He’s the straw that stirs the drink.”
No. 5 Boise State, which beat UNLV 73-66 on Wednesday, did win the second half (40-35) against San Diego State. R.J. Williams had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Broncos against the Aztecs.
“We’re 17-0,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “And I want something to be mad about once in a while. They (Boise State) shot 60 percent (actually 57 percent on 13-of-23 shooting) in the second half against us. So I wasn’t very happy about that.”
Flynn, who sat out last year at San Diego State after transferring from Washington State, also had 19 in the Aztecs’ win over Wyoming. Yanni Wetzell had 20 points and K.J. Feagin had 23 on five threes against Boise State. The Aztecs shot 56-of-107 (52 percent) in the two wins combined. Wetzel shot 16-of-19 for 37 points combined in the wins over Boise State and Wyoming and was named by the conference as the Player of the Week.
“That team handed us our hats,” said Rice of the Aztecs.
Dutcher is going to ride the Aztecs’ winning streak as long as it lasts.
“Am I superstitious?” Dutcher said. “If I took my shoes off you would not want to smell my socks right now. I’ve got the same pair of socks on now for five, six games. I also have a few lucky pennies in my pocket. This is the best one. I have a strap on my briefcase that’s broken. It comes off every time I pick up my briefcase. Someone asked me, ‘Do you want a new strap for your briefcase now or wait until we lose a game?’ I said, ‘I’m not going to change my strap on my briefcase. I’d rather put it on every day.’ So, yeah, I’m superstitious to a degree.”
A crowd of 12,414 at the Aztecs’ Viejas Arena saw the win over Boise State. San Diego State leads the Mountain West in home attendance at 11,170 a game.
“This is the best atmosphere on the west coast,” said Dutcher, whose Aztecs, 9-0 at home, will host the Nevada Wolf Pack on Saturday. “When it’s rocking like it is now we’re hard to beat in here.”
New Mexico beat Fresno State 78-64 and Air Force 84-78 to move up two spots to No. 2. The Lobos, now 15-3, 4-1, got 29 points, 13 rebounds and six threes from Vance Jackson against Fresno State and 20 points from JaQuan Lyle and Corey Manigault against Air Force. Lyle is now fourth in the Mountain West in scoring at 17.4 points a game. The Lobos are 9-0 at home with an average home crowd of 10,736.
Utah State (14-5, 3-3) beat Nevada 80-70 on Saturday to remain at No. 3. The Aggies, which lost to Air Force 79-60 last Tuesday, got 19 points and seven rebounds in 29 minutes from 7-foot sophomore Neemias Queta against the Wolf Pack. Utah State controlled the entire game against Nevada despite shooting 7-of-24 on threes. The Aggies, though, were 13-of-20 from the floor overall in the second half and out-rebounded Nevada 43-28 for the game.
Nevada (10-7, 3-2) also lost at San Jose State 70-68 last week to fall two spots to No. 4. Jalen Harris, now second in the conference in scoring at 18.3 points a game, had 20 points against San Jose State and 31 at Utah State.
The Wolf Pack, which hosts Wyoming at Lawlor Events Center on Tuesday before heading to San Diego State on Saturday, was 20-of-48 (42 percent) on threes in the two games combined.
Boise State (11-7, 3-3) moved up one spot to No. 5 by beating UNLV 73-66 and losing at San Diego State (83-65). Derrick Alston, who leads the Mountain West in scoring at 19.7 points a game, had 26 points and 10 rebounds against UNLV, going 10-of-12 from the free throw line.
UNLV (9-9, 4-1) rebounded from its loss to Boise State on Wednesday by beating Wyoming 78-69 in overtime on Saturday. The No. 6 Rebels got 19 points from sophomore Bryce Hamilton off the bench against both Boise State and Wyoming.
UNLV outscored Wyoming 15-6 in overtime to pull out the home victory. Marvin Coleman (nine points) and Antonio Jonah (six) scored all of UNLV’s points in the overtime.
No. 7 Colorado State (11-7, 2-3) beat San Jose State 81-70 on the road in its lone game last week. The Rams got 21 points each from Isaiah Stevens and David Roddy and six points and 16 rebounds from Nico Carvacho. Carvacho leads the conference in rebounding at 10.7 a game.
No. 8 Air Force (8-9, 2-3) stunned Utah State 79-60 at home on Tuesday and lost at New Mexico 84-78 on Saturday. The Falcons, which outscored Utah State 48-26 in the second half, got 31 points and 11 rebounds from Ryan Swan against Utah State and 26 points and nine rebounds from Lavelle Scottie against New Mexico.
No. 9 San Jose State (6-12, 2-4) upset Nevada 70-68 at home on Wednesday and lost at home to Colorado State 81-70 on Saturday. The Spartans drew a crowd of just 2,822 for the two games combined.
Seneca Knight had 28 points and nine rebounds against Nevada and 21 points and eight rebounds against Colorado State. Brae Ivey had 30 points and 11 assists in the two games combined.
Fresno State (5-11, 1-4) fell two spots to No. 10 after a 78-64 loss at New Mexico on Tuesday. The Bulldogs, losers of four of their last five games, were 6-of-21 on threes and 10-of-19 from the line. Orlando Robinson had 16 points and Jarred Hyder had 14 for Fresno State, which hosts top-ranked San Diego State on Tuesday.
Wyoming (5-13, 0-6), losers of 10 of their last 12 games, remained at the bottom of the rankings at No. 11 after losses to San Diego State (72-52 on Wednesday) and UNLV (78-69 in overtime on Saturday). Hunter Maldonado, though, continues to be a bright spot for the Cowboys. Maldonado, who has scored in double figures in all 18 games this season, scored 18 against San Diego State and had 16 against UNLV.
The 6-foot-7 sophomore is now third in the conference at 17.1 points a game. He was limited to just eight games last year because of knee and back injuries (and ended up red-shirting) after averaging just 5.3 points a game as a freshman in 2017-18.
The Cowboys play at Nevada on Tuesday night (7 p.m.).
The Nevada Appeal Mountain West men’s basketball rankings for the week of Jan. 13-19:
1. SAN DIEGO STATE (17-0, 6-0). This week: at Fresno State (Tuesday); vs. Nevada (Saturday).
2. NEW MEXICO (15-3, 4-1). This week: at Colorado State (Wednesday); at UNLV (Saturday).
3. UTAH STATE (14-5, 3-3). This week: at Boise State (Saturday).
4. NEVADA (10-7, 3-2). This week: vs. Wyoming (Tuesday); at San Diego State (Saturday).
5. BOISE STATE (11-7, 3-3). This week: at Air Force (Wednesday); vs. Utah State (Saturday).
6. UNLV (9-9, 4-1). This week: vs. San Jose State (Wednesday); vs. New Mexico (Saturday).
7. COLORADO STATE (11-7, 2-3). This week: vs. New Mexico (Wednesday); at Air Force (Saturday).
8. AIR FORCE (8-9, 2-3). This week: vs. Boise State (Wednesday); vs. Colorado State (Saturday).
9. SAN JOSE STATE (6-12, 2-4). This week: at UNLV (Wednesday);
10. FRESNO STATE (5-11, 1-4). This week: vs. San Diego State (Tuesday); at Wyoming (Saturday).
11. WYOMING (5-13, 0-6). This week: at Nevada (Tuesday); vs. Fresno State (Saturday).