San Diego State controls its destiny with two weeks left in the regular season, and the No. 22 Aztecs will try to maintain their slim lead in the Mountain West Conference standings Tuesday against visiting Colorado State.
“That’s the beauty of where we’re at,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “We don’t need any help. Our fate is in our own hands. We have four games to go, and it’s in our hands.”
San Diego State (21-5, 12-2 Mountain West) has won four in a row to take a one-game-game lead over Boise State and move two games up on Nevada.
“We’re in the position we need to be in,” Dutcher said. “We don’t need help. We just have to take care of our own business to hang a banner.”
The Aztecs split their two meetings with Nevada this season and have one game remaining against Boise State after beating the Broncos by 20 points on Feb. 3.
Dutcher said there won’t be any scoreboard watching in the coaches’ office.
“We don’t have to hope that Nevada loses or Boise State loses, because if we win, there is nothing they can do,” Dutcher said. “That’s where you want to be.”
San Diego State went to overtime in the first meeting against Colorado State on Jan. 18, ultimately pulling out an 82-76 road victory.
The Aztecs received solid play from their guards, as starters Lamont Butler (19 points), Matt Bradley (14) and Darrion Trammell (11) scored in double figures against the Rams, as well as another 15 points from reserve guard Micah Parrish.
Nathan Mensah scored just six points in the win, but the 6-10 senior forward contributed six rebounds, three blocked shots and a steal.
Mensah’s ability to guard all five positions has been a major benefit for the Aztecs.
“He’s incredible at it,” Dutcher said. “He’s got good feet, he’s got good instincts, he’s got good length and he wants to win.”
San Diego State forward Keshad Johnson credits Mensah’s nimble feet with his experience playing soccer in his native Ghana.
“He stays 10 toes down and gets the job done every time,” Johnson said.
Mensah could be asked to guard Colorado State’s best player, 6-foot point guard Isaiah Stevens, who’s averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 assists this season.
Stevens has reached double figures in points and assists four times this season, including in the overtime loss to San Diego State last month, when he produced 16 points and 11 assists.
He scored 17 points on Saturday in a 60-57 win at Fresno State.
Another player the Aztecs will keep tabs on is shooting guard Jalen Lake, who shot 5 of 7 from 3-point distance in their first meeting and scored a season-high 17 points.
The Rams enter the week 10th in the conference standings, but seventh place is within reach if they can win at least three of their final four games.
“If we can somehow galvanize and try and play our best down the stretch, that’s what we need to do,” Colorado State coach Niko Medved said.
–Field Level Media