SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jaedon LeDee had 16 points and nine rebounds to lead San Diego State to an 81-67 win against Great Osobor and No. 17 Utah State on Saturday to pull the defending Mountain West champion Aztecs within one game of the first-place Aggies.
LeDee scored nine points in the second half of the showdown between the conference's top two scorers and rebounders. Osobor had 17 points and seven rebounds for the surprise conference leaders, who were picked ninth in the preseason media poll.
The Aztecs (17-5, 6-3 Mountain West) beat the Aggies (19-3, 7-2) for the fifth straight time. That streak includes a win in the conference tournament championship game, and the Aztecs went on to reach their first Final Four, where they lost to UConn in the national championship game.
Jay Pal scored 16 for the Aztecs while Micah Parrish added 14 and Darrion Trammell 12.
SDSU, which lost three of its previous five games, including at Colorado State on Tuesday night, once again benefited from its loud home crowd at Viejas Arena. SDSU has won 33 straight games when a loss is followed by a home game.
“This crowd is incredible,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “You just play at a higher level at home than you do on the road. This was a critical game. If we’d have lost we would have been three back in the standings and we’d be going on the road for two. Then we’d be sitting there going, ‘Man, we cannot lose three or four in a row.’
“That’s this conference though. It’s hard to win on the road in this conference. So you have to protect home court at all costs. … We have to enjoy this like crazy tonight, but tomorrow morning we’ve got to get up and we’ve got to go to work again."
Mason Falslev scored 16 and Darius Brown II 13 for Utah State.
SDSU took a 42-36 halftime lead on Reese Waters' corner 3-pointer with four seconds left.
LeDee took over by scoring nine points in the first 4 1/2 minutes of the second half, including a 3-pointer, to help the Aztecs take a 54-44 lead.
The Aggies pulled within seven points with seven minutes to go before Elijah Saunders made consecutive shots for the Aztecs, including a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to 70-58.
While the big matchup was LeDee vs. Osobor, Dutcher shook up his lineup by starting Pal and Trammell over Parrish and Saunders.
“I don’t like doing it much but I thought I’d shake up the lineup a little bit,” Dutcher said. “As much as I was happy with Darrion and Jay Pal, I was equally happy with Elijah and Micah coming off the bench, because it would have been so easy for them to be upset, to be in a funk over not starting. But they both came out making plays, some of the better basketball they’ve played in a while. That just shows this team is focused on winning.”
Utah State: The Aggies will have to wait at least one more game to clinch its 34th 20-win season.
San Diego State: The Aztecs improved to 10-0 at home against Utah State since it joined the Mountain West in 2013-14. Eight have been by double digits. ... The Aztecs held a moment of silence for Carl Weathers, the actor and former SDSU linebacker who died Thursday, as well as for former coach Claude Gilbert and star receiver Tom Nettles.
Utah State hosts Nevada on Tuesday night.
San Diego State is at Air Force on Tuesday night.
AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball