San Diego St. last un­de­feated team

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By BERNIE WIL­SON

The No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs have “The Map” of the United States all to them­selves. The so­lar sys­tem, too, it seems. SDSU (18-0, 7-0 Moun­tain West) is the na­tion’s only un­de­feated team af­ter No. 4 Auburn lost 83-64 at Alabama on Wed­nes­day night.

SAN DIEGO — The No. 7 San Diego State Aztecs have “The Map” of the United States all to them­selves.

The so­lar sys­tem, too, it seems.

SDSU (18-0, 7-0 Moun­tain West) is the na­tion’s only un­de­feated team af­ter No. 4 Auburn lost 83-64 at Alabama on Wed­nes­day night.

“Well, they tell me we’re the last man stand­ing so far, so that’s a good thing,” SDSU coach Brian Dutcher said Thurs­day. “I did stay up and watch the end of Alabama and Auburn, be­cause like any­thing else, at some level, I’m a col­lege basketball fan.

“When Auburn went down, we started get­ting the pictures of ‘The Map.’ San Diego State was the en­tire map, so it was pretty cool.”

San Diego State fans have been en­am­ored with the “The Map” on so­cial me­dia as their team has got­ten off to the sec­ond-hottest start in school his­tory. A map of the

United States has dis­played the dwin­dling num­ber of un­de­feated teams and their ge­o­graphic re­gion. Since late De­cem­ber, San Diego State and Auburn split the map.

On Wed­nes­day night, the whole coun­try be­longed to the Aztecs.

Dutcher, in his third sea­son as head coach, has been aware of “The Map” for sev­eral weeks.

“My wife is kind of graphic, so I don’t know if my sis­ter sent it to her, and there were five or six or seven teams on it and it was kind of cool,” he said. “As we started elim­i­nat­ing teams, ‘The Map’ be­came pop­u­lar in the Dutcher house — graph­i­cally, color schemes, red, black on the whole map, half of the coun­try, it was kind of fun to watch. I know the fans get a kick out of it.”

On Wed­nes­day night, some­one posted a graphic of the so­lar sys­tem with the Aztecs’ logo on the moon and the plan­ets.

“I saw some­one posted one, we’re on the map in the uni­verse now,” Dutcher said. “We cover the moon and Mer­cury and Mars and Jupiter, San Diego State on all of them. So you can make the maps say what­ever you want. It’s kind of cool right now. It’s a great con­ver­sa­tion to have and fun to have.”

Dutcher and his play­ers cau­tioned that “The Map” is strictly for fun and that the Aztecs can’t take any­thing for granted.

“It puts a big­ger tar­get on our back,” Dutcher said. “It does noth­ing other than make us a na­tional story, but all the work lies ahead. We have to get ready for a very good Ne­vada team.”

Af­ter win­ning 64-55 at Fresno State on Tues­day night, the Aztecs re­turn home to sold-out Vie­jas Arena on Satur­day night to host Ne­vada (11-7, 4-2). The Aztecs are two wins shy of match­ing the best start in school his­tory, when they won their first 20 games in 2010-11 be­hind Kawhi Leonard. That team reached the Sweet 16 for the first time in school his­tory.

“Some­one says to­day, ‘Is it hard to keep a young team fo­cused?’ And I said, ‘That’s the good news, I don’t have a young team, I have an old team.’ These guys go to work ev­ery day. They know what the grind is. And we will pre­pare like crazy to play Ne­vada.”

By old, he’s re­fer­ring to the three trans­fers who have led SDSU back into the na­tional spot­light. Guard Malachi Flynn, a ju­nior trans­fer from Washington State, is lead­ing the Aztecs with 16.6 points per game. Big man Yanni Wet­zell, a grad­u­ate trans­fer from Van­der­bilt, is av­er­ag­ing 11.9 points and 5.9 re­bounds. Another grad trans­fer, guard KJ Fea­gin (Santa Clara), is av­er­ag­ing 8.1 points.

Ne­vada is in its first sea­son un­der coach Steve Al­ford, who was fired at UCLA mid­way through last sea­son. The Aztecs are well aware of Al­ford from his six sea­sons coach­ing MWC ri­val New Mex­ico.

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