San Diego St. Aztecs vs. UC Irvine Anteaters Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 9th 2023

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Visiting UC Irvine and No. 25-ranked San Diego State will try to rebound from losses when they meet on Saturday.

San Diego State (7-2) saw its six-game winning streak come to a halt on Tuesday with a 79-73 loss at Grand Canyon.

Jaedon LeDee posted a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double against the Lopes.

San Diego State could not recover from giving up a 17-4 run midway through the second half. Grand Canyon’s 23-of-31 shooting from the foul line compared favorably to the 15-of-24 performance for the Aztecs, and a 16-9 disparity in second-chance points helped make the difference.

“(LeDee) draws contact but not enough for them to give him a call,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said in his postgame press conference. “Because he’s so big and strong, sometimes they don’t reward it. They think that you’re big and strong and you should be able to finish that or you’re strong so we’re not going to give it to you.”

Drawing free-throw attempts has been a significant part of last season’s national runner-up San Diego State generating points. The Aztecs rank No. 50 nationally with 23 percent of its scoring coming at the foul line via KenPom.com metrics.

LeDee has been effective at getting to the charity stripe, where he is 56-of-74 on the season. Teammate Reese Waters is a perfect 36-of-36 on free-throw attempts.

LeDee has gone to the line 10 or more times in four of San Diego State’s first nine games, but has shot a combined 11 in the last three contests. His performance on Tuesday was LeDee’s first game of 20-plus points in the last four after opening the season with at least 21 points in the Aztecs’ initial five.

Tuesday also marked the sixth double-double of the season for LeDee and his third straight. He is averaging a double-double with 22.8 points and 10.3 rebounds a contest.

UC Irvine (6-3) will try to limit LeDee and pull out of a two-game losing skid in the Anteaters’ final date on a three-game road trip.

UC Irvine dropped a 66-62 decision at Duquesne on Nov. 29 and a 79-69 setback at San Diego State’s Mountain West Conference counterpart Utah State last Saturday.

The 79 points were the most an Anteaters defense ranked No. 35 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency allowed so far on the season.

UC Irvine has limited opponents to 45.3 percent shooting from inside the 3-point arc, but Utah State managed a 62.8 percent night on 22-of-35 shooting on 2-point field-goal attempts.

Despite the loss, Anteaters coach Russell Turner saw promise with Dean Keeler coming off the bench for 15 points and five rebounds. Keeler’s 7-of-12 shooting complemented a 21-point game from Justin Hohn, who is averaging a team-high 13.7 points per game.

“Dean was terrific,” Turner said via UCIrvineSports.com. “I was really happy and proud of him. He is just an incredible teammate. I thought that him coming off the bench into the game, having greater energy after those first couple plays in both halves, helped him. He was very poised.”

UC Irvine is looking to score its second Top 25 road win of the season, having knocked off then-No. 16-ranked Southern California on Nov. 14.

–Field Level Media

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