How BYU Took Down San Diego State In ‘Fistfight’ Game

Nov 10, 2023, 11:48 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2023, 2:48 pm

PROVO, Utah – It will be a physical game when BYU/San Diego State square off in basketball.

That was the case again on Friday night.

Typically, these types of physical games go in favor of the Aztecs. It’s one of the reasons they’ve become an elite basketball program over the past two decades. Instead, BYU got the upper hand with a 74-65 victory in a game that BYU guard Dallin Hall referred to as a fistfight.

“Big time game tonight. It was a fistfight from the beginning,” Hall said. “We knew what it was going to be. San Diego State’s a very well-coached team. They play hard and our coaches prepared us for such a game.”

Hall finished with a team-high 18 points for BYU off the bench. The heralded sophomore guard continues to work his way back from a right knee injury he suffered during training camp.

Despite the injury, Hall looked to be up for the task of taking on an SDSU guard line that returned Darion Trammell from last year’s SDSU squad that started in the National Championship game against UConn seven months ago. Hall logged 25 minutes and had highlight-worthy threes, including a sidestep three sent Aztec forward biting on a fake into BYU’s bench.

“Coach [Pope] wants me to take that,” Hall said on his sidestep three. “I’ve been working all offseason on my shots off the bounce. That was a big emphasis for us. He’s been trusting me to take it since and so it’s just about having the confidence to do it.”

Pope added that if anyone had asked him before the game if Hall would have played 25 minutes, he said, “That might have been a stretch.” It was a good thing Hall was able to go as he gave BYU a lift when San Diego State kept holding on to a slim lead in the early minutes of the second half.

Along with Hall, BYU got contributions from Spencer Johnson, Fousseyni Traore, Richie Saunders, and Jaxson Robinson. All four scored in double-figures. Robinson hardly played in the second half logging only four minutes.

Traore scored eight of his 12 points in the second half, with many of those buckets being tough, “fistfight” type plays in the post.

BYU outrebounded the short-handed Aztecs, who were down to eight scholarship players, 42-32.

“If you told me that we were going to come out with a 42-32 rebounding edge, I would have taken that and run with it. No questions asked. This is an elite level physical, National Championship game rebounding team,” Pope said.

Fousseyni Traore led BYU in rebounds with eight. Starting guard Spencer Johnson chipped in another seven on the glass.

“If you remember my first year coaching here with Jake [Toolson] and TJ [Haws] and all the guys, it was an unbelievable game. We lost in overtime and we could not get a rebound. We just couldn’t. For our guys to come perform like they did on the glass was really epically special.”

TJ Haws and Jake Toolson were in attendance on Friday to see BYU get the victory over the ranked Aztecs.

Pope continued, “Our guys’ commitment to getting to the glass on both sides of the ball was unbelievable tonight. I think we will be hard-pressed to find a defensive rebound where we didn’t have five BYU players in the paint, like fighting, it was actually really special.”

BYU improves to 2-0 on the season. Next up is a home game on Wednesday night against Southeastern Louisiana.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for 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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How BYU Took Down San Diego State In ‘Fistfight’ Game