Utah St. Aggies vs. San Diego St. Aztecs Pick & Prediction FEBRUARY 20th 2024

First place in the Mountain West Conference is at stake on Tuesday night when No. 19 San Diego State visits Utah State in Logan, Utah.

The Aztecs (20-6, 9-4 MWC) returned to the AP Top 25 poll on Monday and are tied for first with the Aggies (21-5, 9-4) with five regular-season games remaining for both teams.

San Diego State knocked off then-No. 17 Utah State 81-67 on Feb. 3 in San Diego.

“We’ll be playing for first place on Tuesday in Logan and that’s a great place to be this time of year,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said.

The Aztecs haven’t played nearly as well away from San Diego as they have at home this season, owning a 2-4 record on the road in conference play.

San Diego State has won 19 straight home games, however, the longest active streak in Division I, including 13 this season.

The Aztecs are coming off an 81-70 victory against visiting New Mexico on Friday night, which made up for an 88-70 road loss to the Lobos on Jan. 13.

“We’re in the shape we’re in because we have a great home-court advantage and we’ve taken advantage of it,” Dutcher said.

San Diego State is also in great position in the standings thanks to the play of senior forward Jaedon LeDee, who is averaging 20.4 points and 8.2 rebounds this season.

He has scored at least 20 points in the past three games, something he did more regularly earlier in the season before having to adapt to a change in coverages.

“LeDee is a force and he’s getting stronger and tougher and posting up harder,” New Mexico coach Richard Pitino said. “He reminds me of Zach Edey (at Purdue). He just makes you foul him. … He’s one of the best players in the country.”

Dutcher put forward Jay Pal back in the starting lineup against New Mexico and he contributed six points, seven rebounds and three steals. The Aztecs are hoping to get off to a better start after trailing at the 5-minute mark the past six games.

“We’ve shaken the lineup up a lot this year,” Dutcher said. “We’ll probably continue to shake it up to try to find out what’s the best matchup for the team we’re playing next.”

Utah State has fallen from the rankings after going 2-3 in its past five games, starting with the loss to San Diego State.

The Aggies traveled to Colorado State on Saturday and lost 75-55, which helped boost the Rams back into the Top 25 this week at No. 22.

“This league is too good, to where if you don’t play as hard as you could possibly play, you have no chance in this league. It’s too good,” Utah State coach Danny Sprinkle said. “That falls on me. I didn’t have my team ready to play as hard as we needed to play (Saturday) night.”

The Aggies were badly outrebounded 45-32 against Colorado State, something they can’t afford against San Diego State.

“We’re getting outworked a little bit in the post,” Sprinkle said. “We have to get better. We have to get tougher and more physical in the paint.”

–Field Level Media

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