San Diego State unleashed senior transfer Yanni Wetzell against crosstown rival San Diego and the results were impressive.
The senior transfer set career-highs with 20 points and 12 rebounds for San Diego State, which beat the Toreros 66-49 Wednesday night to remain undefeated.
It was Wetzell’s first double-double at SDSU and his third in Division I. He had two double-doubles last year at Vanderbilt.
“It was fun,” Wetzell said. “My first few games I was just finding my rhythm and it was nice to get out there and finally put those bunnies (close-in shots) on the rim and stretch the floor a little and find my rhythm overall.”
San Diego State, which improved to 4-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season, avenged last year’s 12-point home loss to the Toreros (2-4).
Wetzell’s previous career-highs were 16 points against UNC Asheville on Dec. 31 and 11 rebounds against Arkansas on March 6.
The 6-foot-10 New Zealander made 9 of 11 shots as he scored from inside and outside. He showed a nice touch with everything from a hook shot, a jump hook and a 3-pointer. He made two of the Aztecs’ final three shots of the first half and had 13 points in the first 20 minutes to help the Aztecs to a 34-26 lead. He then opened the second half with a hook shot and a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 13 points.
“I thought Yanni would have an advantage in this game. That’s the beauty of having a week off,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “I thought we had an advantage inside against their power forward and Yanni proved that to be true. He played with great poise and patience and strength and had a really nice game for us, both scoring and rebounding.”
He had a rough game at BYU on Nov. 9, missing several inside shots.
“It was just a matter of finding my rhythm. I know that I make those shots in practice every day and I'm just happy it came today. It was just a matter of keeping my confidence high.”
Wetzell is one of three new players in SDSU’s starting lineup.
“I love it,” he said. “Great team, good depth, we've got nine, 10 guys in our rotation. It's just a testament to how deep we can go on our bench.”
Malachi Flynn and Nathan Mensah had 10 apiece for SDSU.
Noel Coleman scored 10 for USD.
“We need to fight a little more aggressively. They've got really good big guys so they wore us down,” USD coach Sam Scholl said. “They're going to have a very special year. They're well-coached. They compete defensively. They get on the glass. They have phenomenal guards.”
San Diego State: This was the final game of the current contract between the teams and SDSU is considering not renewing it, at least immediately, because they feel they have nothing to gain and everything to lose. Plus, the Mountain West is considering going to a 20-game conference schedule and the Aztecs would prefer to use this slot for a higher-profile opponent.
San Diego: The Toreros dropped to 19-32 in the series. They lost four starters from last year and are playing without their only returning starter, Yauhen Massalski, who is out with an injured left ankle.
San Diego State hosts Long Island on Friday night.
San Diego visits No. 25 Washington on Sunday.