Matt Bradley dribbles before heading in for the score to close out the half against Colorado State. Photo credit: Screen shot, @Aztec_MBB, via Twitter

Brick-wall defense shut down high-flying offense at Viejas Arena Saturday as San Diego State handed No. 20 Colorado State its first loss of the season in bruising fashion, 79-49.

The game, moved up on the schedule due to COVID postponements endured by both the Aztecs (10-3, 2-0 MW) and the Rams (11-1, 1-1) this week, featured the teams picked in the pre-season to finish atop the Mountain West.

But in a switch, and indicative of the improved outlook for the conference, Colorado State was chosen to finish first, with SDSU in second.

The challenges kept on coming too, as the Aztecs again played shorthanded. Though Lamont Butler and Trey Pulliam returned, Adam Seiko and Joshua Tomaić were not available due to medical concerns.

So the team turned to Matt Bradley, who put in 14 points as the Aztecs went into the break up by four. They had led by as many as seven, and the Rams pressed back, yet SDSU’s defense held them to 31.8% shooting in the half, far off their MW-leading pace, nearly 52%.

Bradley returned to the court hot too, hitting two three-pointers on the way to SDSU opening up its largest lead of the game, 43-34, which ballooned despite foul trouble for the Aztecs.

They kept up the defensive pressure though, holding the Rams to 28% shooting for the game. Meanwhile, Bradley finished with 26 points, his top tally on the season. Head coach Brian Dutcher told XTRA 1360 playing patient was the difference for Bradley.

“Matt was unbelievably good today,” Dutcher said.

Chad Baker-Mazara – just cleared to play Friday – added 14 points and Keshad Johnson 10. Aguek Arop had 10 points and eight rebounds.

With the Colorado State loss, two college basketball teams remain undefeated, Butler and USC.

The Aztecs hit the road to play Wyoming (11-2) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Cowboys though have missed their first three conference games, the latest on Saturday against Fresno State, because of COVID issues in both their own and their opponents’ programs.

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