Still Dancing State University: SDSU Heading To Sweet Sixteen After Dominating Furman

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Sweet Sixteen. That was the consensus when it came to preseason expectations for this year’s Aztecs basketball team. A senior-heavy lineup that returned an All-Mountain West performer, the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, and added two all-league transfers.

With that kind of excitement in the off season, this team had those on the Mesa having sweet dreams.

Saturday morning San Diego State made those dreams a reality when Coach Brian Dutcher & crew cashed in on the expectations and punched their ticket to the Sweet Sixteen by manhandling #13 Furman 75-52.

San Diego State’s offense came alive and their defense continued playing at an elite level, as the Aztecs punished the Paladins from start to finish to get the victory.

“Obviously we hang our hat on defense. That’s the one thing that we do every game. Then when we get the opportunity, we start making shots and play good offensively, then we’re very good,” Coach Brian Dutcher said in a joyous post game presser.

Early in the game Furman kept it close, leading by as many as four, and seemingly making most of the difficult shots they were forced to attempt. But the Aztecs flipped the defensive switch in the last ten minutes, going on an 18-1 run that was highlighted by 11 first half Micah Parrish points and some highlight worthy transition baskets in the process.

San Diego State wore down the Paladins in the paint on the offensive end and held their high scoring, ninth in the nation at 81.7 in points per game high scoring offense in check. A last second step back jumper by Matt Bradley put the Aztecs comfortably up 14 at half.

If there was any worry that the Aztecs would come out flat or overconfident in the second half, that was quickly put to rest. San Diego State kept the defensive intensity up as every time Furman tried to find a way against the Aztecs, a defender would be there to stop them.

Furman rarely found a good shot. Coach Brian Dutcher had adjusted well on what the Paladins were trying to do, spread the defense out and create mismatches with screens. Even when they happened to find an open three or a layup/dunk opportunity, their confidence was gone and they could not manage to get the ball in the hoop.

No play better symbolized San Diego State’s dominance than when Furman big man Garrett Hien set a screen and got the pass off the roll. He seemed to be cruising in for an uncontested dunk when Aguek Arop came from the other side and rejected Hien’s attempt.

All game long the physicality and maturity of the Aztecs was on full display. Bodying up on rebounds and every other facet of the game down low on the box was in the favor of SDSU’s frontcourt, as has been the story for the Aztecs this tournament run so far.

Frustration on Fruman’s part began to settle in, when with about 10 minutes left the Paladins then lost their best player Jalen Slawson who picked up his fifth foul, and a technical to boot. The Paladins were deflated. The demoralizing series of events put the Aztecs lead over 20 and it essentially nailed the coffin on Furman’s chances. 

Though a majority of the love is going to aim straight towards the defense, we cannot undervalue how sensational the offense was on the day. The team shot 50% from the field and dominated nearly every important statistical category. San Diego State owned points in the paint (40-16), rebounds (41-24), second chance points (18-5), and points off turnovers (11-5). 

As always the San Diego State bench played a big part in the victory. Parrish led the team in scoring with 16 points. Darrion Trammell followed with 13 points and fellow backcourt mate, Lamont Butler finished with 12 points, six assists, and six rebounds. Bradley rounded out the double-digit scorers with 10 points.

The Aztecs on their travels back home to San Diego had to await the winner of Alabama and Maryland to see just who they would meet next week for a chance at the Aztecs first Elite Eight. 

The opponent will be the Alabama Crimson Tide, the top seeded #1 in all the NCAA Tournament bracket. The matchup likely to be held on Friday evening will be the first ever matchup between the two basketball programs.

Now going from two smaller known schools to the nationally renowned Alabama program, much more national interest will take to the big stage the Aztecs now find themselves on. With multiple other #1 seeds already taken down in the tournaments first round, nothing is out of the possibility for SDSU.

But for now this years team has accomplished what only two other San Diego State basketball teams in history have been able to say, they are going dancing in the Sweet-16 game and how sweet it is.

Stay tuned to and all our articles, podcast and youtube content to come this week.

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