Colorado State wasn’t planning to visit San Diego State until March 1.
But with COVID-19 cases ravaging college basketball programs on a steady basis, the No. 20 Rams were part of a scheduling shuffle that will have them visiting the Aztecs on Saturday afternoon.
The switch occurred after both Mountain West teams lost an opponent due to health and safety protocols.
Colorado State (11-0, 1-0 Mountain West) was slated to visit Boise State on Friday and the Aztecs (9-3, 1-0) were supposed to host Nevada on Saturday. But Boise State and Nevada are unavailable to play due to outbreaks in their respective programs.
So the Mountain West scanned the schedule and found a solution by moving up the Rams’ trip to San Diego State.
Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher is just rolling with the punches.
“It’s what we’re dealing with, it’s the COVID era,” Dutcher told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We’re flipping the script. We spent a lot of time getting ready for Nevada, obviously. We prepped all day (Wednesday) for Nevada. Then we finish practice and find out we’re playing Colorado State.
“Now the coaches have to get home and watch film and get ready for Colorado State.”
The Rams are one of three remaining unbeaten teams in the country. The others are top-ranked Baylor and No. 7 Southern California.
In fact, Colorado State just ended its own long pause between games when it beat Air Force 67-59 on Tuesday night. It was the Rams’ first game in 24 days due to their own COVID-19 issues.
“There’s nothing like playing,” junior guard Isaiah Stevens said after Tuesday’s win. “You can practice all you want, you can run all the sprints you want. You can get on the bike, the treadmill, whatever. There’s nothing like playing.”
Stevens recorded 15 points against Air Force, while Rams star David Roddy added 13 points and 12 rebounds for his 18th career double-double.
Roddy paces Colorado State with averages of 19.7 points and 8.1 rebounds. Stevens averages 14.2 points and 6.8 assists while John Tonje scores 11.7 points per and is shooting 55.9 percent from 3-point range (19 of 34).
Tonje was a hero last season when the Rams split two games at San Diego State.
Tonje converted a go-ahead four-point play with 12.3 seconds remaining as the Rams set school and Mountain West records by overcoming a 26-point deficit to post a 70-67 victory over the Aztecs on Jan. 2, 2021. San Diego State led 36-10 with 8:15 left in the first half.
San Diego State won the rematch two days later, 78-65.
The Aztecs will rate as a tough test for the Rams. San Diego State has won 15 consecutive games against Mountain West foes and also is 6-0 at home this season. San Diego State enters the contest with a four-game winning streak after beating host UNLV 62-55 on Saturday.
Matt Bradley had 17 points and seven rebounds against the Rebels and leads the Aztecs with a 14.9 scoring average.
Guard Lamont Butler has missed five straight games with a wrist injury and could be cleared to play. He participated in pregame warm-ups prior to the UNLV game.
Butler averages 9.7 points per game.
–Field Level Media