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BYU-San Diego State Preview: Cougars 10-Point Underdog

NCAA Basketball: San Diego State at Brigham Young Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Old conference foes BYU and San Diego State meet for the fifth consecutive year Friday night with BYU having won the last two contests. BYU won last year’s game 66-60 in Provo.

19th-ranked San Diego State is the preseason MWC favorite and one of the top teams out West. They opened with a comfortable 80-57 home win over Cal State Fullerton and return their main core from last year with a few key additions.

SDSU Players to Watch

Matt Bradley, Guard — The fifth-year senior came to SDSU last year from Cal and led the Aztecs in scoring with 17 ppg. He’s a good isolation player that shot 40% from three. The Aztecs brought in some scoring help, but they will lean on Bradley when things get tough for them.

Nate Mensah, Center — Another fifth-year senior, the 6-foot-10 big man is the reigning MWC Defensive POY. SDSU was a top three defense last season and Mensah is the anchor of that. Mensah scored 18 points versus BYU last year but was in foul trouble, which limited his aggressiveness and time on the court. If BYU can get Mensah in foul trouble again that will open up things for Fouss and the rest of the offense.

Darrion Trammell, Guard — A 5-foot-10 transfer from Seattle, Trammell is the MWC Newcomer of the year after averaging nearly 20 points in two seasons at Seattle. He also averaged 2 steals a game, so SDSU is counting on Trammell to give additional scoring punch and cause havoc on defense.

Jaedon LeDee, Forward — Mensah is the only player taller than 6-foot-7 that SDSU starts, but they bring 6-foot-9 TCU/Ohio State transfer Jaedon LeDee off the bench. LeDee isn’t the defensive presence Mensah is, but he gets after it on the offensive glass and gives the Aztecs some scoring punch on the low block.

What BYU Needs to Do

The Aztecs were the Number 2 team nationally in KenPom defensive efficiency last year, but just 167 on the offensive end. The Aztecs were 5th in defensive effective FG% and top 30 in forcing turnovers. BYU shot poorly versus Idaho State and turned the ball over 23 times, which is the recipe for a blowout versus the Aztecs. BYU didn’t shoot particularly well versus the Aztecs last season (4-18 from three) but they turned the ball over just 11 times.

BYU needs to do the same here. Even if the shooting isn’t great, they have to keep the turnovers low. Getting shots up gives BYU the opportunity for second chance points and gives them time to set their defense on the other end.

Defensively, BYU has to be locked in. You would expect the Aztecs to force BYU into a subpar shooting night, so BYU needs to hold its own defensively to keep themselves in striking distance with under 5 minutes to go. Mensah scored 18 points last season, but SDSU shot just 3-22 from three.

If BYU can keep Bradley and Trammell below 40% shooting and rebound the ball well, they should be able to keep the game from getting out of hand.

BYU-SDSU By The Numbers

Vegas Spread: SDSU -10

KenPom Rankings: SDSU 17, BYU 56

KenPom Odds: SDSU 77% Win probability, 73-65 score prediction

The game tips off at 7:30 PT. You can find details how to watch here.