Jaedon LeDee Helps Lift San Diego St. Past Colorado St., 71-55 At Home

 Game Recap: San Diego State 71, Colorado State 55

San Diego State capitalizes on a poor second-half from Colorado State.

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San Diego State stands tall against visiting Rams, thanks to huge second-half from Jaedon LeDee.

Both the Aztecs and Rams have experienced high & lows this season. A theme no Mountain West team has evaded thus far. Still, both programs find themselves in a four-way tie for second place, just one game behind league leader Utah State.

The last time these two teams met was on January 30th in Fort Collins. That first win stayed with the hosting Rams, thanks to two twenty point performances from Isaiah Stevens & Nique Clifford. Now fast forward a couple of weeks and both squads are in very similar places. Fighting the juggernaut that is the top-7 or so teams in the Mountain West at the moment.

With only six remaining regular season games to not only help these teams vie for beneficial seeding in the Mountain West Conference Tournament but also boost their chances at at-large bids should things not pan out in Las Vegas, time and winning are of the essence.

The Rams didn’t let a second go to waste. After giving up the first points of the game to a Jaedon LeDee Dunk, Colorado State went on an 14-0 before the Aztecs found their next point. The credit for that run goes to the outstanding three point shooting of Josiah Strong, who made three of Rams four opening three pointers.

The Aztecs needed a few moments but they responded. Chipping away at their visitors lead while Colorado State continued their long distance bombardment inside Viejas Arena. Sending their hosts back to their locker rooms down 44-30 at the half.

Brian Dutcher’s group didn’t necessarily have a bad offensive half. Colorado State simply had a great first half from beyond the arc & the Aztecs didn’t have many free throw opportunities to help fill the gap. While Niko Medved’s squad shot over 50% from the floor (16-28) & from deep (7-14).

San Diego State utilized the break to regroup and come out swinging. With the Aztecs going opening the scoring with a 7-0 run, including 5 straight points from their potential All-American Jaedon LeDee.

Colorado State responded with a 5-0 run of their own to help extend their lead back to double-digits (49-37). After that the Rams went several minutes without a made field goal. Which was enough for LeDee to go to work, scoring his team’s next seven points to add to his already fourteen.

The profound defensive juggernaut that is normally San Diego State held the Rams to just 10 points off of 3-17 shooting in the first thirteen minutes of second-half action. Outrebounding Colorado State 22-5 during that same stretch.

Though it wasn’t until the 9:47 mark that the Aztecs too their first lead of the game with a Jay Pal free throw, putting them up 53-52. San Diego State would slow the game down & rely on knocking down free throws to extend their lead.

Scoring became scarcer for the Rams. With a 7-1 run capped by a Lamont Butler Layup before a media timeout grew the Aztecs’ lead to a whopping fifteen points with 3:39 left in the game.

Both sides went scoreless over the next few minutes as Colorado State found themselves still down by fifteen points with a little over a minute to go. After that Brian Dutcher cleared the bench. Sending his star big man to the bench for the night with 27 points, a whopping 22 of them coming in the second-half.

With that San Diego State secured the 71-55 win at home and took sole possession of second place for the time being. LeDee was joined in the scoring column by two 11 point outings from backcourt members Darrion Trammell & Lamont Butler. While Niko Medved had four rams reach double-figures, with the lone exception being starter Joel Scott. Also receiving little to no help (4 points total) from their bench.

Player Spotlights

Colorado State G-Josiah Strong

Stat line: 14 points, 2 assists on 5-12 (41.6%) from the floor & 3-7 (42.8%) from deep in 29 minutes of action

Strong started things off, well strong for the Rams Tuesday night. Although recruited as a scoring sharpshooter, Strong has struggled with his rhythm & injuries during his time in Fort Collins. His three made 3-pointers were a season high and his most since transferring from Illinois State back in 2022.

It’s hard to highlight a good first-half performance after a nearly completely absent second-half (3 points, 1-6 shooting, 0-3 from deep). But let’s look for the silver lining Rams fans.

San Diego State FJaedon LeDee

Stat line: 27 points & 6 rebounds on 10-14 (46.6%) shooting from the floor, including 7-11 (63.6%) from the line in 26 minutes of action

After beginning the season averaging 26.8 PPG & 10.6 RPG over the Aztec’s first five games. LeDee placed his name in contention for national award watch lists. Not to say that reputation has dimmed over the course of the season, I mean the 6-9 big man hasn’t failed to reach double-digit scoring not once the entire season. Not to mention his current season averages of 20.0 PPG & 8.6 RPG thanks to his 54.9% field goal percentage.

But, his effectiveness to not only dominant a game but help his team win one came into question after San Diego State dropped four games since conference play began. None of that came into LeDee’s head on Tuesday night. As his team emerged from half-time down by 14 points, he went to work. Scoring 22 of his 27 points all in the second half and shooting an impressive 8-11 (72.7%) while doing it.

I can’t see the Aztecs winning so comfortably without that second-half dominance. Which could be extremely useful going forward in San Diego State’s remaining six regular season games.

Three Takeaways:

  • San Diego State made a comeback that came with a side of defensive stalwart that only the Aztecs could have made. It spoke to the always dangerous program that Brian Dutcher has continued to mold since taking over. It made for must see Mountain West TV while kicking off what turned out to be an exciting night for basketball in the conference.

  • Colorado State shot lights out in the first half. It’s always hard to keep offensive momentum going after a half-time break. Which, combined with the Aztec’s infamous defense, led way to a horrendous second-half performance inside Viejas Arena. As ugly as this loss became, it doesn’t spell doom for the Rams. There are plenty of other opportunities to help climb themselves up the conference ladder & better build their Tournament resume.

  • With the Aztecs win, the conference race was better defined Tuesday night. Gone was a huge four way tie for second place. And with it San Diego State helped further solidify their place as a top-3 finish team in this league.

Next Up:

The Aztecs will stay in San Diego to end their two game homestand against longtime conference rivals New Mexico. The Lobos won the first leg of this series back in Albuquerque on January 13th. That 88-70 loss came at the hands of a red hot New Mexico squad. Since then Richard Pitino’s squad has succumbed to the gauntlet that is the Mountain West.

Regardless of previous games, any team can win on any given night, so Viejas arena needs to show up to help avenge their loss at home last season to New Mexico. That rare Friday night game will tip-off at 7:00 PM PT and can be seen on FS1.

While Colorado State returns home to defend Moby Arena against league leaders Utah State on Saturday February 17th. Aside from being the feel good story of the year, the Aggies are a dangerously good team.

But the Rams gave them a run for their money last time out in Logan, so stay tuned for what could be the marquee game on Saturday.That game tips off at 3:30 PM MT and can be seen on the CBS Sports Network.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire