One thing coming into this 2022-2023 basketball season that San Diego State fans have been talking about is how deep and balanced this team is. It has been a common theme during the Dutcher Era; how is Coach Brian Dutcher going to split up minutes to his players.
Facing a physical front court the Aztecs went nine deep against a PAC-12 opponent—on the road. The Aztecs kept throwing bodies at Stanford, a top-15 team in terms of height, keeping them from ever finding a weakness in the San Diego State defense.
The Aztecs displayed their strength, using their depth and some hot shooting to dominate a Stanford team at the Maples Pavilion, 72-64, before an announced crowd of 3,945 spectators. Many of those were visibly cheering on the Red & Black.
From the opening basket the Aztecs set the tone on how this night would go down. A three point shot made by Matt Bradley put the Aztecs ahead 3-0 and they never trailed on their way towards the programs’ first ever victory over the Stanford Carinal.
From that shot would soon follow a barrage of made 3-pointers. One each delivered by Keshad Johnson, Micah Parrish, Lamont Butler and Adam Seiko. Before you knew it SDSU had jumped out in front 19-9 over Stanford.
When the Aztecs are hot, there are not many teams in the nation that can beat them. Stanford was not an exception. In the first half San Diego State began the game on fire from the field shooting 60% from the field and 40% from the three-point line.
Jaedon Ledee once again dominated the first half (10 first half points), using his quickness and strength to help the Aztecs take an 11-point lead into the break.
The lead seemed a bit underwhelming, considering the Aztecs were running hot and the defense was creating points off turnovers, but Stanford hung in there with second chance points and an 18-10 advantage on points in the paint. After twenty minutes the Cardinal felt like they had a chance to pull the upset, if they could only mount a run
In the second half Stanford was able to do just that. They actually put together a couple runs, and got the score as close as four points, but the Aztecs would extend their lead each time. Coach Dutcher’s team showed that killer defense in half number two, recording seven steals in the second period, which led to 15 points off turnovers.
“We guard hard,” said SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher post game, “If teams get baskets on us, it’s usually because they deserve them.“
One note from this game is that San Diego State did not win the game down in the post, which was a concern with a big, physical team like Stanford. They were out-rebounded (32-27, 12-3 on the offensive glass), outscored in the paint (34-26), and lost the second chance points battle (11-0).
Thankfully the Aztecs guards were more than up for the task, outscoring the Cardinal backcourt 25-6. Not to be overlooked was the ability to possess the ball without giving it back to Stanford. Between Darrion Trammell and Lamont Butler, two of the Aztecs primary ball handlers, the duo only gave up one turnover on the evening.
In total, San Diego State’s offense was a well-balanced effort with all nine players scoring. Ledee finished the game with 14 points to lead the Aztecs. Keshad Johnson and Lamont Butler also finished in double figures. Each scored 11 points, with Butler adding six rebounds and this climax of the game in the form of a resounding fast break jam.
As mentioned this was SDSU’s first victory over Stanford in program history. Although the teams only shared less than a handful of games together, it is another sign of just how far this Aztecs men’s program has come under the Steve Fisher/Brian Dutcher era.
“The beauty is there’s something to learn from every game. We weren’t perfect, we made a lot of mistakes. But it’s a lot better to learn from a win than a loss,” said Brian Dutcher. “The key is we can’t get full of ourselves because we’re 3-0, we have to know it’s a long journey and we have to get better and we’ll start that process when we get back to San Diego.”
When asked about star scorer Matt Bradley’s slow start to the season, coach Dutcher spoke with clear confidence of his super senior PAC-12 transfer.
“Sometimes the shots don’t go and he’s just got to keep his confidence up because I’ve got confidence in him. I’ve watched him all last year, 30 something games for us. He’s just got to fight through a little slump and all players go through it. But he’ll play his way out of it and I’ll try to run some plays to help him.“
Spencer Jones had a game-high 15 points for Stanford. Harrison was the only other Cardinal player in double figures, adding 11 points for the overmatched PAC-12 squad.
#17 San Diego State now advances their season record to 3-0 and is sure to gain more ground in the National polls. The Aztecs get a week off before a humongous test in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. The Aztecs will take on Ohio State in the first round on Monday.