“Big win,” said BYU guard Dallin Hall postgame. “It was a fistfight from the beginning. We knew what it was going to be, San Diego State is a very well-coached team and they play hard.”
The Aztecs opened the game on a 7-0 run.
“They made a calculated decision to run five guys back in transition, and it was effective in slowing us down for sure,” said BYU head coach Mark Pope postgame.
BYU received a pair of three-pointers from Spencer Johnson to help the Cougars respond before the first media time-out, as San Diego State led 10-8 with 14:39 remaining in the first half.
Lamont Butler led the Aztecs with 7 points, helping San Diego State take a 15-10 lead into the second media timeout with 11:44 remaining.
The Cougars went on a 7-0 run coming out of the timeout, capped off by a Jaxson Robinson three-pointer, giving them a 17-15 lead with 10:07 remaining in the first half.
Darrion Trammell regained the lead for the Aztecs on the following possession when he picked up his first points of the game on a three-pointer, giving them an 18-17 lead.
Fousseyni Traore recaptured the lead for BYU when he hit a hook shot and gave them a 19-18 lead with 7:31 remaining in the half.
Robinson went on a personal 5-0 run for the Cougars, giving them a 24-20 lead and forcing the Aztecs to call a timeout with 5:53 on the clock.
Trey Stewart cashed a three-pointer to extend BYU’s run to 10-0, before the Aztecs knocked down a layup, making the score 29-22 at the final media timeout of the half with 2:39 remaining.
At the half, the Cougars led the Aztecs 33-28.
Robinson led BYU with 12 points in the first half, shooting 5-8 from the field, including a pair of three-pointers. While also tacking on a team-leading four rebounds. Overall, BYU shot 37% in the first half.
Butler led San Diego State in scoring with nine points, shooting 3-5 from the floor and 2-3 from three. Micah Parrish added a team-high six rebounds in the half. As a team, the Aztecs shot 42% in the half, while also turning the ball over eight times.
San Diego State opened the second half on a 7-2 run to help them tie the game 35-35 before the first media timeout of the half at 15:50.
Jaedon LeDee and Reese Waters combined to power the Aztecs on a 9-4 run, giving them a 46-42 lead with 11:52 remaining in the game.
“Yeah, I think we made some adjustments in our spacing,” Hall said. “It was a rusty game, especially for me coming back from injury. Got some things to look at in the film and to defensively get better at. But we kind of knew that is how they play defensively.”
The Marriott Center crowd was brought to their feet when Hall cashed a corner three to give the Cougars a 51-50 lead with 8:07 remaining.
Hall struck again when he drained a three-pointer from the top of the key, giving BYU a 54-50 lead and forcing the Aztecs to call a timeout with 6:26 remaining in the game.
It was Trevin Knell’s turn to bring the crowd to their feet when he drained a three in the corner.
“We got 27 (three-point shot attempts) up tonight, we are trying to get 35,” Pope said. “… The fact that we got 27 up, I am really proud, because it is hard to get 27 against this team. And so, that will continue to be a really important part of who we are for sure.”
Parrish quickly quieted the crowd when he knocked down a three and scored a layup on the next possession and made the Aztec’s deficit to 57-55 with 4:44 remaining.
The Cougars led 59-55 at the final media timeout with 3:36 remaining.
Coming out of the media timeout, Jay Pal missed a free throw for San Diego State. Richie Saunders was fouled on the ensuing rebound and knocked down both free throws to give BYU a 61-55 lead with 4:09 remaining.
Hall hit his fourth three-pointer of the half with 2:34 remaining in the game, giving BYU a 66-57 lead with 2:25 remaining.
“I just trusted in the work that I have done with the coaches all summer, and with the sports psychologists and I just trusted in that,” Hall said. “I know that my teammates trusted me to keep taking those shots.”
Traore knocked down a pair of free throws for the Cougars, giving them a 68-59 lead with 1:21 remaining.
Saunders knocked down a pair of free throws for BYU to put the game away, giving them a 72-63 lead with 0:23 remaining.
In the end, the Cougars defeated the Aztecs 74-65.
“We executed our game plan,” Hall said. “A couple of guys just really showed up to play. Everyone had a moment where they really stepped up.”
Hall led the Cougars in second half scoring with 16 points, shooting 5-6 overall and 4-5 from three-point range. Traore led the Cougars with five second-half rebounds.
LeDee led the Aztecs second-half offense with 13 points while shooting 6-9. Elijah Saunders grabbed four second-half rebounds to lead the team.
Hall led the Cougars in overall scoring with 18 points while shooting 6-13.
Traore led BYU with eight rebounds, while also adding 12 points on 5-9 shooting and picking up four assists.
LeDee was the top producer for the Aztecs, racking up a team-leading 21 points on 9-16 shooting. While also leading the team with seven rebounds.
“LeDee is a workhorse, he is a great player,” Hall said. “Super physical. Always on the glass. And so, our approach was to match his physicality. Hit first and force him to his left hand.”
Waters chipped in for San Diego State with 15 points on 5-11 shooting.
What is next?
“We are going to celebrate tonight, but then we are going to come back tomorrow and we are going to lock in for the next game and treat them as an even greater opponent than San Diego State because this is just the beginning of what we want to do,” Hall said.
The tipoff of that game will be at 7 p.m. and fans can stream the game on ESPN+.