Aztecs storm back to defeat Utah State in Mountain West Semifinals, 86-70

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

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Credit: Deanna Gold? EVT Sports

Thomas & Mack Center – University of Nevada Las Vegas 

The San Diego State Aztecs were down as many as 17 points and defeated the Utah State Aggies by 16 after a massive momentum switch in the second half. The Aztecs are headed to their 7th consecutive Mountain West Championship and 13 of the last 15. This team is used to these moments.

“We got down 17 in the first half and we don’t panic,” head coach Brian Dutcher said postgame. “We just fight our way, fight, fight, fight. We caught a break when Osobor got his second foul he went to the bench after having a good rhythm. With him out of the game they had to change how they were playing a little bit. We decided to play (Parrish) and (LeDee) with two fouls each. But I felt with the game being close, we needed to make a stand in the first half.”

The referees were trigger-friendly to start this contest, as there were four combined foul calls in the first two minutes. Utah State started 4-7 from the floor and took a quick 10-5 lead after an early 9-0 run halted by the U16 timeout. To make matters a bit scary, Jaedon LeDee picked up his 2nd personal foul just four minutes into the contest.

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

As LeDee went to the bench, SDSU went on a 6-0 run for themselves. Micah Parrish started the game 4-4 with eight points to keep the Aztecs in it early. The Aztecs would not have been in the game early on without the senior guard. SDSU led 15-14 with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half. However, Parrish would then pick up his 2nd personal foul as well.

The Aggies switched up the pace and started to take over in the middle of the half. They stormed out to a 22-2 run to lead by as many as 17 points.

The Aztecs said … “enough.”

LeDee returned to the floor and helped the Aztecs go on a quick 9-0 run to get back in the contest. They continued to cut the lead down as the rest of the half went on. Butler hit free throws to bring them to within four with three minutes remaining in the half. LeDee returned to the bench as Great Osobor picked up his second foul. Both sat for the final 3-4 minutes of the half.

As the final seconds approached, Trammell did what he did best. The point guard drained yet another shot at the buzzer.

Utah State led by just three points, 39-36 at the break. Parrish led the Aztecs with 10 points on 5-6 shooting.

“We know our coaches believe in us,” Parrish said postgame when asked what it means to have Dutcher have confidence in them. “The coaches keep telling us to shoot so we appreciate having the coaching staff believe in us.”

San Diego State started the second half on fire. They made five of their first seven shots to take the first lead since they led 15-14 very early in the first half.

The Aztecs kept their foot on the gas pedal.

They continued to shoot well and hit six of seven shots as the midway point of the second half approached. Their lead increased to seven points as Trammell stepped to the line for three free throws. After the senior guard nailed all three, their lead increased to 10, 63-53, with 11:28 remaining.

Right as SDSU saw their lead reach 13, the Aggies responded with a quick 5-0 run to cut the lead to eight.

Just seven minutes remained.

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As crunch time arrived, LeDee picked up his fourth personal foul. He remained in the game. Just a few minutes later, he fouled out of the game. As he was walking to the bench, the SDSU fans at Thomas & Mack Center chanted MVP to the senior. The entire arena could hear it.

Despite LeDee leaving, the Aztecs still controlled the game and led 82-70 after a Jay Pal fastbreak dunk.

With 1:27 remaining, Waters increased the lead to 13 after going 1-2 from the charity stripe.

There was nothing the Aggies could do from there. SDSU won the game, thanks to a dominant second half.

“I think as a team not having a week to sit down and think about whatever happened in the game you didn’t like, definitely helps with the turnaround,” Waters said postgame when asked if playing back-to-back days helps offensively. “You don’t have time to sit there and think and get into your own mind.”

San Diego State now awaits the winner of No. 7 Colorado State and No. 6 New Mexico.

News & Stats 

  • LeDee – 22 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
  • Parrish – 15 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block
  • Butler – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal
  • Waters – 11 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block
  • Trammell – 10 points, 5 assists, 1 steal
  • Great Osobor led Utah State with 19 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks

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