LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — The seventh-ranked and undefeated San Diego State Aztecs were ready for whatever awaited them in Laramie.
They planned ahead to deal with the 7,220-foot elevation, which can quickly sap a player’s strength. They had no intention of being upset by the Wyoming Cowboys, who have beaten ranked Aztecs teams before.
Not this night.
Malachi Flynn scored 19 points, Yanni Wetzell added 17 and the the Aztecs beat Wyoming 72-52 on Wednesday night to remain one of the nation’s two undefeated teams.
San Diego State (16-0, 5-0 Mountain West) continued its hottest start since 2010-11, when it opened 20-0 behind Kawhi Leonard and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time, finishing a school-record 34-3.
Jordan Schakel added 11 points for the Aztecs, whose 16-game winning streak is the longest in the country. San Diego State and Auburn are the nation’s only undefeated teams. Auburn beat Vanderbilt on Wednesday night to improve to 14-0.
To combat the elevation, coach Brian Dutcher had the Aztecs return home Sunday after winning at Utah State on Saturday night. They then took a charter flight to Wyoming on Tuesday night.
“I thought a couple of our guys looked tired here in the first half and they were winded,” Dutcher said. “It’s hard playing at altitude. And so I’m not one of those coaches who tries to say it’s in your head. No, it’s not in your head. I know what it is.”
The plan worked. San Diego State was a little sloppy early and let Wyoming get within three points on Hunter Maldonado’s 3-pointer with just less than eight minutes left in the first half.
San Diego State then closed the half on a 14-6 run to take a 32-21 lead. Wetzell grabbed Flynn’s missed 3 for a dunk and then fed Adam Seiko for a layup. Schakel hit two 3-pointers while Seiko and Flynn each added a bucket.
“It’s a matter of coming and executing,” said Wetzell, a graduate transfer from Vanderbilt. “We don’t think too much about the record, we don’t think about the ranking. We just try to come hard and play every day.
“We can’t take anyone lightly with the situation that we’ve put ourselves in, in a Top 10 ranking,” the big New Zealander added. “We know everyone’s going to give us their best effort.”
San Diego State lost the last two times it played in Laramie while in the Top 25, 68-62 as the fifth-ranked team on Feb. 11, 2014, and 58-45 as No. 15 on Jan. 19, 2013.
Flynn, Schakel and KJ Feagin each hit a 3-pointer in the first four minutes of the second half to push the lead to 47-30.
Hunter Maldonado scored 18 points for Wyoming (5-11, 0-5), the conference’s last-place team. Hunter Thompson added 15 for the Cowboys, who lost their third straight.
Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said the Cowboys need to work on things like going after loose balls at every opportunity.
“We’ve got to continue to get better at it,” Edwards said. “But going against a team like this — even, not only as a coach but even if I’m a player — I’ve got to appreciate what they do.”
The short-handed Aztecs continued to be without Nathan Mensah (respiratory ailment) and Aguek Arop (shoulder), and Joel Mensah was sidelined with back spasms.
San Diego State: Flynn was among 25 players named to the John R. Wooden Award 2019-20 Midseason Watch List by the Los Angeles Athletic Club. Leonard (2011) and Jamaal Franklin (2013) were the only other Aztecs players named to the list.
Wyoming: The Cowboys are 3-5 against San Diego State when the Aztecs are ranked.
San Diego State hosts Boise State on Saturday night at sold-out Viejas Arena.
Wyoming hosts UNLV on Saturday night.
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