Courtesy of Braidon Nourse

LAS VEGAS – No. 5 seed San Diego State is headed to its seventh straight Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship title game.

But to get there, the Aztecs first had to get through No. 1 Utah State and the Conference Player of the Year in Great Osobor.

Osobor, who scored 29 points against Fresno State on Thursday, tallied 19 more against the Aztecs to go with five rebounds. But the Aztecs were able to limit Osobor and Darius Brown II, who finished shooting 3-for-11, enough to run away with an 86-70 win.

The matchup between Osobor and Aztecs forward Jaedon LeDee is regularly one of the best in the conference, and even though fouls kept both on the bench for extended amounts of time, LeDee still got the best of Osobor and the Aggies.

“They’re both really good players. They’re versatile, they can hit jump shots, drive the ball, post up, so they’re not one-dimensional bigs. They can do everything,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “Jaedon made some jump shots, which kind of got him going, but Osobor is very good. The last time we played him, he had seven assists, so we changed our whole scheme as to how we played him.

“We didn’t want to double him right away because he had seven assists and they were getting 3-point shots. So we went into the game and said let’s make him make 2s and not give him 3s. You have to change the way you play, he’s so good.”

Fouls were abundant early, the first half finishing with 22 fouls between the teams. LeDee was called for two fouls within just four minutes, so Dutcher had to take him out of the game.

Utah State took advantage, going on a 22-2 run to take a 17-point lead, most of the run coming with LeDee on the bench. But at one point during the run, Dutcher made the decision to put him back in to stop the bleeding, knowing he was risking LeDee picking up a third foul.

When a game is called like that, especially early in the game, a team may need to change the way it plays on both ends of the floor, partly to limit its own fouls but also to draw more and get to the line.

“I think we just play smarter. We’re an aggressive team. We play aggressive on offense and defense,” said Aztecs guard Reese Waters, who finished with 11 points and five rebounds. “But just making smarter decisions and being on time. Especially in defense. If it’s help defense, you’re just on the ball, not reaching as much and just playing disciplined.”

At that point, Dutcher told his team he would feel most comfortable if his team brought it back to within 10 at halftime. Instead, the Aztecs finished on a 19-8 run of their own to bring it to within three at the break.

To cap it off, Darrion Trammell hit a shot at the buzzer, much like he did the day prior against UNLV.

“I felt the way the game was going, we needed to make a stand in the first half,” Dutcher said. “And we were fortunate Darrion hit another halftime buzzer beater to close the gap, and we were in the game at halftime. Then we came out the second half and played our continually good defense.”

Then it was the LeDee show. Of his 22 points, he scored 17 in the second half alone – 15 in the first 10 minutes of the period.

The 17-point comeback was the largest in a Mountain West tournament game since the Aztecs erased a 21-point lead against UNLV in 2017.

They finished the game off by running away mostly with their defense, which held the Aggies without a made field goal in the last 6:05 of the game.

As a reward, the Aztecs will play the winner of No. 6 New Mexico and No. 7 Colorado State in the Mountain West Championship final Saturday at 3 p.m.