Teams have taken their best shot at San Diego State 26 times this season and the undefeated Aztecs have found a way to win every single time.
It’s part of the package that comes with being undefeated, especially this late in the season. Junior guard Malachi Flynn, who transferred from Washington State, knows what it’s like to be both the hunter and the hunted, as he explained to NCAA.com’s Andy Katz on this week’s episode of the March Madness 365 Podcast.
“My first two years [at Washington State],we were the ones looking up to the Arizona’s or the Oregon’s,” Flynn said. “Now since we’re at the top, we’re getting everybody’s best shot. I think that’s good for us though because everyone comes in wanting to beat us, they’re playing to their A-game. I think that’s only going to make us better.”
Flynn’s interview with Katz begins at about the 8:05 mark. Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing, former Butler center Matt Howard and Conference USA commissioner Judy MacLeod also joined the podcast.
The Aztecs are 8-0 since they became college basketball’s final undefeated team Jan. 15. They won those contests by an average margin greater than 16 points per game. Four different players have led the team in scoring in that time — Flynn (three times), K.J. Feagin, Matt Mitchell (twice) and Yanni Wetzell (once).
Two key themes to take from this are balance and depth. Flynn first noticed an abundance of the latter during a two-game tournament in Las Vegas over Thanksgiving. SDSU first rolled Creighton by 31 before a comeback win over Iowa to win the tournament championship. That, he told Katz, was when he realized how much the Aztecs are capable of accomplishing.
Make no mistake, Flynn didn’t expect to have a perfect record with three regular season games to go. But here the Aztecs are, 26-0 on Feb. 18, already having clinched the regular-season title for the Mountain West Conference behind a balanced approach at both ends of the floor.
Sure, Flynn runs the offense as the point guard. But SDSU isn’t dependent on one player. He, Mitchell and Wetzell all average double-figure scoring in addition to guard Jordan Schakel. Defensively, the Aztecs hold teams below 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from distance. Since Nov. 30, only Air Force (Feb. 8) has managed to crack 70 points while UNLV (Jan. 26) is the only team to lose by fewer than five.
“We have great chemistry as a group. We all want to win,” Flynn said. “There’s no individual egos … everybody comes together and trusts each other.”
A season ago, Flynn was a spectator at SDSU, sitting out in accordance with NCAA transfer rules while watching SDSU reach the Mountain West tournament championship game. This March, the college basketball world will have its eyes on Flynn and the Aztecs as they chase championships and, potentially, a spot in history.