BYU Basketball is back in action tomorrow afternoon against former Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State. The game will mark the first time the Aztecs have played in Provo since 2011, the infamous matchup between Jimmer Fredette’s Cougars and Kawhi Leonard’s Aztecs.
Things are much different now than they were eight years ago when the two teams last met in Provo. For starters, the teams are now meeting in just the second game of the season, not towards the end of the year in conference play.
Each team enters the matchup with a 1-0 record. BYU earned a 76-58 win over Cal State Fullerton Tuesday, riding the hot hands of TJ Haws and transfer Alex Barcello. San Diego State dominated Texas Southern 77-42, setting up a big early-season game in Provo tomorrow afternoon.
The Cougars and the Aztecs did play last season in San Diego. SDSU led almost the entire game on their way to a 90-81 win over the Cougars.
With this year’s game taking place at the Marriott Center, the Aztecs know it’ll be a challenge.
“I’ve heard that it’s one of the hardest places to play, and it was the hardest place to play when they were in the Mountain West Conference,” said San Diego State guard Matt Mitchell in an interview released by the school earlier this week.
BYU first-year head coach Mark Pope will also get his first taste of the rivalry, and is making sure his team maintains their focus on the team.
In a video released by the team after Tuesday night’s win, Pope told his players, “It’s really dangerous when you have a team.” Pope emphasized that his team doesn’t have any personal agendas, something that’ll help them each time they take the court together.
Along with Saturday’s matchup at the Marriott Center, the BYU vs. SDSU rivalry will continue on the football field this year. The Cougar football team is set to face the Aztecs on their home turf later this month in the season finale.