Provo • The last time San Diego State came into the Marriott Center is a moment many fans still recall vividly, even if it has been more than eight years since that game.
No. 9 BYU upset then-undefeated No. 4 SDSU 71-58 — propelled by a 43-point performance by Jimmer Fredette that overshadowed Aztec star Kawhi Leonard’s 22 points – back in January 2011. BYU went on to play the Aztecs two more times to close out the 2010-11 season.
But that was also the Cougars’ final season in the Mountain West Conference, as the school moved on to independent status in football and the West Coast Conference in basketball and other sports. It was also the end of a heated rivalry that only recently sprouted back to life.
BYU and SDSU met in 2014 at the Maui Invitational and then against last year at Viejas Arena. Now, Cougars-Aztecs finally makes its return to the Marriott Center for the first time since that 2011 contest.
The Cougars are coming off a 76-58 win over Cal State Fullerton in the season opener Tuesday. Junior guard Alex Barcello shone in his BYU debut with 17 points, to assists, two blocks and three steals.
Senior guard TJ Haws also scored 17 points in the season opener, scoring 15 in the second half.
Barcello and Haws, along with Jake Toolson, Dalton Nixon and Kolby Lee will be the likely starters against the Aztecs.
The Aztecs are bringing in what BYU coach Mark Pope calls all-star backcourt, led by junior guards Jordan Schakel and Malachi Flynn, and senior KJ Feagin. The Aztecs also start senior forward Yanni Wetzelland sophomore forward Nathan Mensah. The are all long.
Wetzell and Feagin played for Vanderbilt and Santa Clara, respectively, last season before transferring to SDSU, and Flynn redshirted last season after transferring from Washington State. Schakel and Mensah are the only two players that have previously started for the Aztecs prior.
The 6-foot-10 Mensah, in particular, will be a hurdle the Cougars need to clear. He blocked a team-high 39 shots in 34 games last season.
Pope is hoping his team isn’t intimidated by the Aztecs’ size or resume entering the Marriott Center.
“There might be some shock when people see us walk out onto the floor and San Diego State walk out onto the floor — and we’re hoping there’ll be some shock when we walk off the floor, too,” Pope said. “People will be like ‘how did that happen?’ That’s what we’re hoping for.”
BYU VS. SAN DIEGO STATE
At Marriott Center, Provo, Utah
Tipoff » Saturday, 2 p.m.
TV » BYUtv
Radio » 1160 AM, 102.7 FM, Sirius XM 143
Records » BYU 1-0; SDSU 1-0
All-time series » BYU leads, 48-25
Last meeting » SDSU won 90-81, Dec. 22, 2018
About BYU » The Cougars opened the 2019-20 season with a 76-58 win over Cal State Fullerton. ... The Cougars made nine three-pointers on 60% shooting. ... Alex Barcello led the team in shooting percentage with 78% field-goal shooting. ... The Cougars will continue to be without Yoeli Childs, who is sitting out the first nine games due to a NCAA suspension.
About SDSU » The Aztecs are coming off a 77-42 victory over Texas Southern. ... They’re led by junior guard Jordan Shackle, who is averaging 15 points on 71% shooting. ... This will be the team’s first road contest of the season. ... The Aztecs are just 3-29 against BYU at the Marriott Center.