Undefeated No. 20 Aztecs roll past NAIA Hawks, 92-48
SAN DIEGO (AP) — No. 20 San Diego State got the laugher it needed to ease back into action after a 10-day layoff for finals.
Yanni Wetzell scored 17 points and the Aztecs beat NAIA San Diego Christian 92-48 on Wednesday night to remain undefeated. It was the 13th-largest margin of victory in school history.
“We had 10 days off so it was nice to kind of knock the rust off and get back out there,” said Wetzell, a New Zealander who is a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt. “It was awesome going against a team like this. We were able to get everyone out there on the floor. Everyone was able to play some good minutes and we shared the ball really well, so overall great performance in my eyes.”
SDSU (11-0) hadn’t played since beating San Jose State by two points by home on Dec. 8. The Aztecs were playing for the first time since jumping into The Associated Press Top 25. They moved up five spots Monday despite not playing last week.
The Aztecs are off to their best start since opening 20-0 behind Kawhi Leonard in 2010-11, when they reached the Sweet 16 for the first time and finished 34-3. They are one of four remaining undefeated teams.
KJ Feagin added 12 points and Malachi Flynn and Jordan Schakel had 10 apiece for SDSU.
“I think we played pretty well,” Feagin said. “We kept sharing the ball, playing as a team. I’m pretty satisfied with the performance today.”
San Diego Christian considered this an exhibition game.
The Aztecs used it to get their legs back after the long layoff and to prepare for Saturday’s game against Utah at Staples Center in Los Angeles. That’s the last of four big non-conference games the Aztecs are hoping will bolster their resume for an at-large NCAA Tournament bid in case they don’t win the Mountain West Conference tournament and the automatic bid that comes with it.
SDSU has already won at BYU, and beat Creighton and Iowa to win the Las Vegas Invitational.
“I put on the board today that San Diego State is playing San Diego State, and that’s no disrespect to San Diego Christian but we’re playing up to whatever our standard is for ourselves,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “I thought we came close to doing that. I thought we guarded pretty well. Second thing I put up there was rebounding. We didn’t do that very well today. The last thing I put offensively ... we have to share the ball and I thought we really did that at a high level.”
SDSU had 24 assists, led by Feagin with eight.
The Aztecs had a lot of slam dunks and worked on their press against the outmanned Hawks.
Bryce Parsons gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead before the Aztecs went on a 14-0 run. Wetzell started it with a hook shot and finished it with a dunk.
The Hawks pulled within single digits before SDSU used an 8-0 run to take control for good. Wetzell had another slam and a free throw, and Matt Mitchell converted a three-point play for a 27-16 lead.
SDSU led 45-27 at halftime.
San Diego Christian’s Marc Combs scored all 14 of his points in the first half.
“Granted, we were apprehensive because this team is so well-coached,” Hawks coach Dwayne Cosby said. “We knew the task at hand. We wanted to come in and execute our stuff and just put up a good fight for 40 minutes.”
But the Aztecs’ press left the Hawks “plenty surprised,” Cosby said. “I was really shocked at how they pressured us and how bad we ran into it given how we practice it every day. We never got in a groove offensively.”
San Diego Christian fell to 0-9 in the series that began in 2010. The Hawks made the 9.4-mile drive from suburban Santee in three vans.
San Diego State: The Aztecs were playing as a ranked team for the first time since Feb. 28, 2015, when they were No. 24 and lost at home to Boise State to fall out of the rankings.
San Diego Christian: Hosts Cal Maritime on Friday night.
San Diego State: Plays Utah at Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top 25