- The undefeated San Diego State Aztecs look to make it five in a row against BYU when they host the Cougars on Friday as 7.5-point favorites
- The Aztecs have climbed to No. 18 in the AP Top 25 during a 5-0 start, while the rebuilding Cougars have impressed while winning six of eight
- We’ve got you covered with all the odds and trends ahead of Friday afternoon’s matchup at Viejas Arena
The San Diego State Aztecs will be aiming to improve their unblemished SU record to 6-0 when they host the BYU Cougars on Friday as 7.5-point favorites. Pegged at No. 18 on the AP Top 25, the Aztecs bolstered their position in the national rankings with last week’s decisive 80-68 road win over No. 23 Arizona State. The Cougars have also enjoyed a steady start, with last weekend’s 82-68 mauling of the Utah Utes marking BYU’s sixth SU win in eight outings so far this season.
Here’s a look at the odds and trends ahead of Friday afternoon’s matchup at Viejas Arena.
BYU Cougars vs. San Diego State Aztecs Odds
|BYU Cougars||+7.5 (-110)||+290||O 137.5 (-106)|
|San Diego State Aztecs Odds||-7.5 (-110)||-360||U 137.5 (-114)|
Odds taken at FanDuel on Dec. 17th, 2020.
Aztecs Turning Heads
The Aztecs have picked up where they left off after closing out last season with a 30-2 SU record, and firmly positioned at No. 6 in the national rankings. Strong defensive play has been key to the team’s fast start. The Aztecs have surrendered just 57 points per game during their 5-0 SU start, and look to Friday’s contest ranked 20th in adjusted defensive efficiency at Kenpom.
The Aztecs are proving everyone wrong this season! 💪
Jordan Schakel earned Player of the Week from @TheAndyKatz after dropping 25pts in the road win at No. 23 Arizona State! pic.twitter.com/Ya8IREySoE
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) December 14, 2020
A veteran squad that Kenpom has pegged at No. 9 in experience, the San Diego State attack has been led by seniors Matt Mitchell and Jordan Schakel. Mitchell has been a model of consistency early on, cracking double-digits in points in each of the first five outings of the season, and also leads the squad with 1.6 steals per games. Schakel is coming off an impressive performance in last week’s win over the Sun Devils. The Aztec guard went 5-for-9 from beyond the arc and added six rebounds in the team’s second win of the season against nationally ranked opponents from the Pac-12, and earned Mountain West Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
Secondary Scoring in Short Supply
Secondary scoring remains a concern. Mitchell and Schakel are the only Cougars shooters averaging double-digit point totals, However, Nathan Mensah has shown signs of a turnaround after a slow start. The junior forward has averaged just 9.0 points so far on the season, and sports a career-worst .529 field goal percentage, but impressed with a 17-point, 15-rebound performance against ASU.
SDSU has won 33 of its last 34 games when leading at halftime. The Aztecs took a 35-33 lead to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/oIZHxo5sex
— SunDevilSource.com (@SunDevilSource) December 11, 2020
The Aztecs have also enjoyed steady success against BYU, winning SU and ATS in four straight meetings. That run includes a pair of outright wins as betting underdogs, including a last season’s 76-71 win as 3.5-point road dogs, and a pair of home victories in which they have averaged 91 points per game.
Cougars Exceeding Expectations After Offseason Overhaul
While the Aztecs have returned to action with loads of experience, the Cougars underwent a number of personnel changes during the offseason. Seven seniors from last year’s squad have moved on, including leading scorers Yoeli Childs, TJ Haws and Jake Toolson.
Alex Barcello (17.8 ppg) is the only BYU player averaging double digits in scoring.
— CougarStats (@CougarStats) December 14, 2020
However, Alex Barcello has effectively filled the void. The senior guard has scored 20 or more in five of eight outings, and leads the squad with 17.8 points and 3.9 steals per game. But his focus was on playmaking against Utah, recording a season-high eight assists while going just 2-for-4 from the floor for five points.
BYU Shooters Struggle to Find Consistency
Overall, the roster shakeup has not hindered the Cougars, who have opened the campaign on a 6-2 SU run. In addition to last weekend’s lopsided win over the Utes, BYU also escaped with a 67-64 road win over Utah State. However, the squad has also lost big in two outings while favored. BYU shooters went just 27.5% from the field in a crushing 79-53 loss to USC as 3.5-point favorites, and recorded just five points in the first 12 minutes of last week’s 74-70 loss to Boise State while favored by 3.5.
BBall QOTD: Who’s going to end up being the secondary scorer from the wing/backcourt to compliment Alex Barcello? Who would you put money on right now? Why?
J Wade#BYU #BYUHoops #ESPN960 #GoCougs pic.twitter.com/tcGYLi4Rse
— Benjamin Criddle (@CriddleBenjamin) December 10, 2020
Those offensive breakdowns are a major concern for a squad that both led the nation in three-point shooting and ranked seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency last season. While the Cougars have exceeded expectations, their recent wins over Utah and Utah State have caught the attention of opponents. Expect the Aztecs to be ready, and to bring the Cougars back down to Earth with a decisive win in a high-scoring contest.
The Picks: San Diego State -7.5 (-110); OVER 137.5 (-106)