M. Hoops Opens Campaign with Exhibition vs. UC San Diego on Thursday
Oct. 31, 2017
SAN DIEGO -
NEWS AND NOTES
* This marks the second straight season in which the Aztecs and Tritons have face in an exhibition setting. Last year, San Diego State emerged with a 76-63 victory.
* A season ago, the Aztecs led at halftime, 53-30, and were outscored in the second half by UCSD, 33-23. Despite the 10-point difference, San Diego State was never threatened, leading by 20 points with just under four minutes to play. The Tritons closed the game on a 10-3 run to provide the final 13-point margin.
* Five current Aztecs played in the game vs. UCSD, led by Montaque Gill-Caesar’s 18 points off the bench. Trey Kell posted 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, and Jeremy Hemsley went for 11 points, four assists and two steals. Nolan Narain added four points and Jalen McDaniels chipped in two points. It was the first time the pair had put on an Aztec uniform.
* SDSU has played UC San Diego in an exhibition only twice before. Prior to last season’s meeting, the schools played ahead of the 2012-13 campaign with the Aztecs claiming an 80-56 home decision.
* San Diego State has never dropped a game vs. UC San Diego in 11 regular-season match-ups. The Aztecs, however, have not played the Tritons in a meaningful game since the 2009-10 season opener. That was the fourth straight year in which the schools met in the regular season.
* The Aztecs enter their lone exhibition game having won 24 straight exhibitions.
* Prior to the game, San Diego State will have a moment of silence for former athletics director Fred Miller, who passed away recently. Under Miller, funding for what was then Cox Arena and now Viejas Arena was approved. The building opened in time for the 1997-98 campaign and is entering its 21st season.
* SDSU enters the campaign with elevated expectations following a 19-14 effort in 2016-17 that saw it go 9-9 in the Mountain West, which was good for sixth place. The Aztecs, despite the blip on the radar, were picked to finish second in the MW’s preseason media poll released earlier this month.
* San Diego State is led by Kell, who was selected as a preseason all-conference player by the league’s media. The senior from San Diego led the team in scoring (13.2) and assists (2.9) last season, and was named team co-captain, along with classmate Malik Pope, by Dutcher.
* Pope is looking to build off a strong finish to his junior campaign as he averaged team-high figures in scoring (13.1) and rebounding (7.1), and averaged 1.7 assists while shooting 46.0 percent and 46.9 percent from three-point range. Those numbers covered the final 14 games of the year.
* Kell and Pope are two of San Diego State’s three returning starters with the other being Hemsley, a junior guard. The Rancho Cucamonga native has started a majority of his time at SDSU (56 of 69 games) and is coming off a season in which he averaged career highs in scoring (12.9), rebounding (2.4) and assists (2.1).
* Overall, the Aztecs return six letterwinners from last season. Joining Hemsley, Kell and Pope are juniors Gill-Caesar and Max Montana, who averaged 7.7 points in 29 games (10 starts), and redshirt sophomore Narain, who saw limited action.
* The other half of SDSU’s roster has not played a regular-season game for the Aztecs. McDaniels played in both exhibitions last year, but redshirted, as did junior guard Devin Watson, who sat out after transferring from San Francisco where he averaged 20.3 points and 4.9 assists as a sophomore in 2015-16, and graduate transfer center Kameron Rooks, who began his career at California. The rest of SDSU’s roster consists of three highly regarded freshmen in Matt Mitchell, Jordan Schakel and Adam Seiko.
* As previously mentioned, San Diego State was picked to finish second in the MW’s preseason media poll. SDSU earned 229 points and two first-place votes and trailed only Nevada (257 points; 19 first-place votes). The Aztecs, however, were ahead of third-place Boise State (211; 2), fourth-place Fresno State (188) and fifth-place Colorado State (154). The remaining first-place tally went to UNLV, which was predicted to finish in sixth (138). The rest of the poll: Wyoming (7th; 133), Utah State (8th; 102), New Mexico (9th; 93), San José State (10th; 41), Air Force (11th; 38).