San Diego State could be teetering on the edge of the top 25 rankings when the Aztecs host Kennesaw State on Monday night.
San Diego State (7-3) came into last week ranked No. 22 but had to rally late to beat Troy to start the week, and then fell to Saint Mary’s to cap it off.
The Aztecs came into the season ranked No. 19 and loaded with talent and experience based on the return of senior starters Nathan Mensah, Keshad Johnson and Matt Bradley, and junior Lamont Butler. They added transfers Darrion Trammell (Seattle), Micah Parrish (Oakland) and Jaedon LeDee (TCU).
The Aztecs won their first four games, capped by an 88-77 win against Ohio State in their opening game at the Maui Invitational on Nov. 21. They climbed as high as No. 17 in the rankings but are 3-3 since.
The first two losses came against No. 10 Arizona and No. 11 Arkansas in Maui, but the latest blow came against a team not among the top 25.
Saint Mary’s managed to hold the Aztecs to 41.1 percent shooting, including 3-of-15 from 3-point distance.
One of the bright spots against Saint Mary’s was the play of Bradley, who scored a team-high 13 points and is averaging 15.6 points over the past five games for the Aztecs.
“I stepped into that playmaker role a little bit better and that opened up my offense,” said Bradley, in his second season with the Aztecs after playing three seasons at California. “I’m just out there playing and trying to have fun and, you know, give other guys the opportunity to score.”
Johnson also contributed a season-high 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting against the Gaels.
Trammell continues to struggle, however. He’s shooting 29.7 percent from the floor in the past seven games after going 3-for-11 against Saint Mary’s.
Kennesaw State should be motivated to play well against the Aztecs, its first ranked opponent this season.
The Owls, whoaccepted an invitation to join Conference USA in 2024, have six wins by Dec. 5 for the first time in program history, and their 6-3 record is the best nine-game mark since the program moved up to Division I in 2005.
Kennesaw State should also be fresh. The Owls haven’t played since toppling Charleston Southern 76-65 on Dec. 5.
Kennesaw State has a capable scorer in the backcourt in Chris Youngblood, and a hard-to-handle power forward in 6-foot-8, 264-pound Demond Robinson. Quincy Adekokoya is also in his first season with the Owls after playing two years with Temple and he’s given them another threat from the perimeter.
Kennesaw State coach Amir Abdur-Rahim said the most recent road victory against Charleston Southern reinforced that the Owls are headed in the right direction.
“To come out with an 11-point win on the road says a lot about our growth as a team and a program,” Abdur-Rahim said.
–Field Level Media