Brian Dutcher, center, while coaching the unbeaten Aztecs. Photo credit:

San Diego State’s Brian Dutcher is one of 15 coaches named to the Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year Watch List.

The announcement came from the Atlanta Tipoff Club early Friday.

Dutcher, in his third season leading the Aztecs, is the only coach in the Mountain West conference  being considered for the award.

Friday’s list will be narrowed to 10 semifinalists, then four finalists. The winner will be announced at the Naismith Awards Brunch at the Final Four in Atlanta in April.

San Diego State is 26-0 overall, 15-0 in Mountain West action. They are ranked No. 4 in the nation after jumping into the Top 10 last month.

The Aztecs became the last undefeated team in the nation on Jan. 15 and their run has continued to   26-straight wins on the season.

Dutcher has guided the best start to a Division I season since Gonzaga led off with a 29-0 record in 2016-17.

The team’s 15 consecutive wins in Mountain West action also is the best start to league play by any team in conference history.

In addition to Dutcher, the other Coach of the Year finalists include Scott Drew of top-ranked Baylor, Mark Few of Gonzaga, and Bruce Pearl of Auburn. Auburn was undefeated through mid-January.

One of Dutcher’s charges, Aztec Malachi Flynn, has made a number of watch lists for honors among college’s basketball’s top players.

The Aztecs have three remaining regular-season games. SDSU hosts UNLV at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

– Staff reports

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