Brigham Young Cougars vs. San Diego St. Aztecs Pick & Prediction NOVEMBER 10th 2023

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The entertaining rivalry between No. 17 San Diego State and BYU continues Friday night in Provo, Utah.

Though the Cougars (1-0) own a 50-27 overall record against their former Mountain West Conference foes, the Aztecs (1-0) earned bragging rights last year. Jaedon LeDee scored 23 points and made a late game-clinching layup as SDSU won 82-75 in San Diego early in its NCAA finalist season.

Both teams earned season-opening blowout wins on Monday. LeDee scored 27 with 10 rebounds to help SDSU pull away from Cal State Fullerton in an 83-57 win. Spencer Johnson, who scored 17 against the Aztecs in 2022, sparked BYU in its 110-63 victory over Houston Christian with 20 points.

The Cougars had 13,130 fans in the opener at the Marriott Center, and thousands more are certain to attend this enticing showdown between nonconference rivals who usually play on an annual basis.

“San Diego State is incredible. He’s (coach Brian Dutcher) got a Top 20 team again this year, and every year this turns into an epic battle,” BYU coach Mark Pope said. “It turns into a test of your manhood and I love it. Our guys love it. We know they will face the most physical (team) and it will be a street fight from the tip. … It’s been a fun series.”

While the Aztecs made their 2023 Final Four run, the Cougars struggled in their final West Coast Conference campaign. They went 19-15, placed fifth in the WCC, and didn’t participate in postseason action.

If Monday’s opener was any indication, BYU intends to fire away from outside and crash the boards in its first season in the Big 12. Against Houston Christian, the Cougars shot a school-record 43 3-pointers, making 15 (fifth-most in program history), and won the rebound battle 59-25 with a 21-1 edge on the offensive glass.

“I’m really proud of the 43 3-pointers and I’m really proud of the 21 offensive rebounds,” Pope said. “Sometimes you can’t get them and you’re going to have to win in a different way, but this is a staple of who we want to be.”

The Aztecs are 4-30 all-time in Provo, and last won there, 76-70, in 2019. They are 4-2 against BYU since 2014.

After raising the Final Four banner Monday, this Aztecs team is eager to make its own name. In 2022-23, SDSU won the Mountain West regular-season and tournament championships and went deeper into the tournament than any Aztec team — beating Florida Atlantic 72-71 on a buzzer-beater in the semifinals before falling to UConn 76-59 in the championship.

“I was ready to stop talking about last year because I know this year we have to step it up,” said Micah Parrish, who scored 17 with five 3s on Monday. “We can’t keep going off last year. It’s a new year, a new us, a new team, new energy.”

“That’s last year’s team,” LeDee added. “We want to repeat if not do better this year.”

–Field Level Media

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