The San Diego State men’s basketball team on the court during an Oct. 30, 2019 exhibition against UCSD. Photo credit: goaztecs.com

San Diego State’s men’s basketball team begins the 2019-20 season at home at 7 p.m. Tuesday against Texas Southern.

The opener follows the team’s exhibition 86-51 win over UC San Diego on Oct. 30. Experts picked the Aztecs to finish second in the annual Mountain West preseason media poll.

That amused coach Brian Dutcher, who said “it will be interesting to see where we land on the court.”

“We have so many new pieces, that they don’t really know what we are, and we don’t either,” he said.

The preseason favorite is Utah State, which shared the regular-season title last year and won the conference tournament.

New Mexico, Nevada and Boise State round out the top 5.

SDSU has finished either first or second in the Mountain West preseason poll in each of the last six years.

Malachi Flynn, a junior transfer from Washington State, was selected as the league’s preseason Newcomer of the Year.  In his final season at Washington State, Flynn averaged 15.8 points, and 4.3 assists per game.

San Diego State did not have a player voted to the preseason all-conference team.

In last week’s crosstown exhibition, forwards Matt Mitchell and Keshad Johnson led the team with 12 points each. Mitchell, a junior, went 2-for-3 from the three-point line and added three rebounds. Johnson, a freshman out of Oakland, also hit two 3-pointers, had two rebounds and an assist.

Joel Mensah finished the game with 11 points, grabbed five rebounds and had a steal. Nathan Mensah (no relation to Joel) pulled down a game-high seven rebounds and scored 10 points.

Mitchell’s goal for the year is a return to the NCAA Tournament. They last played there in 2018, losing in the first round. The team went 21-13 last year and 11-7 in the Mountain West.

We want to be No. 1, we want to win our conference, we want to win the conference tournament,” the junior forward said. “So I see that as … like a starting point. you start there and you can only go up.”

– Staff reports

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