Aztec Jordan Schakel. Photo credit: goaztecs.com

San Diego State (6-1) begins defending its Mountain West title at 1 p.m. Saturday when the men’s basketball team hosts Colorado State at Viejas Arena.

The teams will play the first of two games postponed in December when Colorado State faced COVID-19 issues in their program. Saturday’s game will be televised nationally by CBS.

The rescheduled games replaced contests with UNLV that had been set for Saturday and Monday. UNLV, with pandemic issues of their own, had to bow out.

The Rams will play an Aztec team that reentered the Coaches Poll this week at No. 23. SDSU fell out of the Associated Press and Coaches polls following their Dec. 18 loss to BYU.

San Diego State has won its last five meetings with Colorado State with Matt Mitchell leading the way.

He averaged 12 points and 5 rebounds while connecting on 9-of-20 three-pointers in his five career games against the Rams.

Last season, he had 18 points and eight rebounds in the win in Fort Collins. He added 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds in the victory at home.

The Aztecs return to action after 10 days off, when they bounced back from the BYU loss by pounding Saint Mary’s (8-1) 74-49.

With the win, SDSU joins Gonzaga as the only programs to defeat Saint Mary’s by 25 or more points in the last 21 seasons.

In addition, junior forward Nathan Mensah produced the best game of his career. He led the Aztecs with a career-high 18 points and six blocked shots.

It was the fifth career double-double for Mensah, who has two in his last three games.

Senior guard Terrell Gomez also stood out, matching his Aztec high with 13 points. He now has 305 career three-point field goals, third among all active Division I players.

The Aztecs play the Rams again Monday, following the two-game series format the conference established for the season to deal with the pandemic.

– Staff reports

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