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Blog: BYU Secures Rivalry Win Over No. 17 San Diego State

Nov 10, 2023, 9:11 PM | Updated: 9:13 pm

BYU/San Diego State, Game Recap, Spencer Johnson...

Brigham Young Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) passes the ball past San Diego State Aztecs forward Elijah Saunders (25) as BYU and San Diego State compete at BYU’s Marriott Center in Provo on Friday, Nov. 10, 2023. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – BYU defeats No. 17 San Diego State 74-65.

The win lifts BYU to 2-0 overall on the season, while the Aztecs drop to 1-1.

Here’s a blog of game reactions and notes throughout BYU’s 74-65 victory over rival San Diego State.

Pregame for BYU/San Diego State

No Dawson Baker tonight again with a foot injury. Unlike Monday’s season opener against Houston Christian, Baker isn’t wearing a boot on his left foot.

BYU continues to wait on the NCAA waiver decision for Kansas transfer Marcus Adams Jr. He’s in street clothes tonight along with walk-on forward Tredyn Christensen.

BYU rolled out a new intro video featuring head coach Mark Pope before they hit the lights on pregame warmups. Pope said in the video, “Cougar Nation, welcome to the greatest arena in college basketball, the Marriott Center!”

First Half

Surprising to see a late arriving crowd. There are a lot of empty seats in the lower bowl at the first media timeout.

Spencer Johnson was key for BYU in the early minutes, preventing San Diego State from building a big lead at the first media timeout. Johnson buried two threes and made a winning play on an assist for a layup.

BYU has to capitalize on shots at the rim. There were four missed shots at the hoop in the opening five minutes of action.

The difference between a team like Houston Christian and San Diego State is mindblowing. SDSU’s JaeDon LeDee is everywhere for the Aztecs and is a physical presence in the post.

Aly Khalifa picks up his second foul with 10:58 remaining in the first half. Atiki Ally Atiki stepped into tonight’s game much earlier than he did against HCU.

BYU’s first lead of the game comes courtesy of a deep three from Jaxson Robinson that banked its way home. You’re going to need a little bit of luck to take down a nationally-ranked team.

San Diego State’s offense is looking like the SDSU offenses of old when BYU was in the Mountain West with them. The Aztecs are in a four-minute scoring drought. It’s allowed BYU to build up a four-point lead.

One year ago at San Diego State, Noah Waterman was bullied off the floor against the Aztecs. He’s giving some tough minutes and hanging in the post.

BYU isn’t kidding when they say they want the three-point shot to be a significant piece of their identity. Trey Stewart fired away from deep and buried the shot. It was possibly the biggest make of his BYU career to this point. The shot gave BYU a nine-point lead.

BYU was kind of sloppy to close the half, letting their nine-point lead trim down to three. Fousseyni Traore got it back up to five after a tough bucket in the paint with a baby hook.

Traore has had a few of those shot attempts around the hoop but couldn’t get them to fall. That was his second field goal of the night.

Second Half

BYU is going to be a team that lives and dies by its three-point shooting. They opened up the second half with four misses from distance and instantly, the Aztecs pounced and regained the lead.

Dallin Hall knocked down a beautiful sidestep three that got the Marriott Center off its feet and rocking for the first time this season. The decibels exceeded 90, per my Apple Watch.

If Hall consistently knocks down shots like that, he’s going to cause some headaches in the Big 12 this year.

Utah Jazz Owner Ryan Smith is sitting courtside for tonight’s game. He couldn’t help but get up and cheer after Hall knocked down his third three of the second half. Shortly before that, Smith was shooting off an eyeball emoji tweet from a John Collins highlight in the Jazz game against Memphis.

Fans are not happy with the offensive foul call on Noah Waterman. They wanted a flop called instead. For a game in November, there’s high intensity. That’s what the BYU/San Diego State game brings. It always lives up to the hype.

Noah Waterman fouls out of the game with 3:38 to go.

Coming out of the timeout, SDSU’s Jay Pal missed the front end of a one-and-one. Richie Saunders came up with a huge rebound and was fouled on the board. Mark Pope felt this game was going to test his group’s manhood. They are stepping up.

SDSU had another frontend miss from the free throw line. BYU battled for the rebound but Fousseyni Traore ended up tipping the ball into the SDSU basket to leave the Cougars up six with 2:58 to go.

Dallin Hall buries another three. Remember, he’s doing this on a right knee that was banged up coming into the week. He’s showing signs of how much growth he’s made after a full year inside a Division I strength and conditioning program.

BYU had a strong close to the game. They come away with a nine-point victory over one of the nation’s Top 25 teams.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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Blog: BYU Secures Rivalry Win Over No. 17 San Diego State