San Diego State begins its a run for the 2021 Mountain West Tournament championship at noon Thursday at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
After securing an outright Mountain West Conference title in their win against UNLV, the Aztecs (20-4, 14-3 in MW) will play eighth-seed Wyoming in a game airing on CBS Sports Network.
SDSU, ranked No. 19 in both national polls, took the two games they played against Wyoming in January, winning one by 30 points and the other by 27.
That, though, is the past and senior Matt Mitchell said the team is focused on each opponent in their pursuit of a championship.
“The way we will get there is to take it one game at a time. We are not looking past anybody,” he said.
As a top seed, San Diego State has a first-round bye. If the team advances to the Friday semi-finals, they will play the winner of Thursday’s Boise State-Nevada contest. The championship game is set for Saturday.
Coach Brian Dutcher, who noted his team’s aches and pains after their final regular season game against UNLV, gave them two days off.
The Aztecs got together Saturday to shoot and review film, skipped Sunday, then on “…Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday (had) hard game action against each other,” Dutcher said, “getting our timing ready for whatever opponent we face Thursday afternoon at noon.”
San Diego State has played for the tournament title in six of the last seven years and in 10 of the last 12 seasons, except for 2013 and 2017.
Overall, SDSU is 34-16 in the MW tournament, with the most wins in league history. The team has won the event a record five times, the last in 2018. Utah State took the crown last year, beating the Aztecs 59-56.
In other conference news, Mitchell, a forward, and Dutcher received Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards in the coaches’ post-season vote.
Mitchell is the second Aztec in a row and fifth all-time to be named MW Player of the Year. Mitchell finished the regular season averaging 15.4 points and 6.3 rebounds in league action.
Mitchell also was named a first-team All-MW performer. Senior guard Jordan Schakel was a second-team All-MW selection and junior forward Nathan Mensah, an honorable mention. In addition, the conference placed Mitchell and Mensah on the MW All-Defensive Team.
In the media awards, Mitchell earned first-team designation, while Schakel earned second team. Mensah and senior guard Trey Pulliam received honorable mentions.
Updated 1:05 p.m. March 10, 2021.