Playing the same college basketball team twice in three days is a tough assignment. Doing it nearly a mile above sea level without arguably their best player was too much to ask for San Diego State.
The Aztecs lost 64-59 at Utah State, getting swept in their trip to Logan and falling to 9-4 on the season.
SDSU was playing without senior forward and leading scorer Matt Mitchell, who suffered a hyperextended knee and bone bruise in a loss to Utah State on Thursday night. His absence opened up some minutes and Lamont Butler took full advantage.
The true freshman guard came off the bench and contributed immediately. Utah State led by eight in the first half when Butler started stealing the game, somewhat literally. Butler had five steals and scored 13 points, which doesn't figure to be a fluke. At Riverside Poly High School he broke the career scoring record that belonged to one Reggie Miller.
Butler's defense combined with a scoring binge by senior guard Terrell Gomez (who finished with 16 points) sparked a 19-3 SDSU run to end the first half that put the Aztecs up 32-22.
But, as we've seen several times this year, San Diego State has trouble holding leads. It took Utah State just three and a half minutes to tie the game at 34. Then the one thing that head coach Brian Dutcher most feared happened.
The Aggies dominated on the glass. USU outrebounded 39-32 with many of their offensive boards leading to fouls. Utah State went 19-25 from the free throw line while SDSU was just 7-15.
The Aztecs fall to 5th place in the Mountain West Conference and with both Utah State and Boise State still undefeated they're dangerously close to being out of the running for the regular season title. SDSU comes home for a few days then go back up into the mountains, this time to Colorado Springs to play Air Force for a pair of games on Friday and Sunday.