Aztecs take down Long Beach State 88-76, improve to 2-1

Lamont Butler (right) implores the Viejas Arena crowd on Tuesday night. (Credit: Don Da Mars Photography/ EVT)

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Credit: Don Da Mars Photography/ EVT News

Steve Fisher Court at Viejas Arena – San Diego State University 

The San Diego State Aztecs improved to (2-1) on the season after taking down a good Long Beach State squad.

“A good win,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “I was nervous about Long Beach. They are a good team who were picked to finish 2nd in their league and they have experience, size, strength, are well coached, and I thought we did a great job of adjusting as the game went on.”

Adjusting was the story of the game for the Aztecs. Long Beach tried to throw a couple difference defensive game plans at SDSU, and it worked to an extent. At one point in the second half, the Aztecs struggled to bring the ball up on the half-court trap. However, as the game went on, they fixed their mistakes and did not let Beach back into the game.

This will end up being a great game to rewatch on film for the players, as they saw a tough zone early on in the season, which is typically rare.

“It’s early in the season you know,” Dutcher said. “We saw a 1-3-1 zone, a tandem zone, a 2-3 zone, a 3-2 zone, a half court press, and full court press. You practice but you can’t practice for everything. So one of the things I put on the board was “adjust.” We can come up with game plans but the players just have to make plays. I thought we did a good job of that.”

Before the game, Viejas Arena paid tribute and had a moment of silence for San Diego Padres’ chairman and owner, Peter Seidler, who passed away early Tuesday morning.

The Aztecs started strong, per usual. Reese Waters led the charge with an early five points but was replaced less than four minutes into the game as he picked up his second personal foul. Darrion Trammell replaced him. Waters did not return in the half as Dutcher decided to play it safe.

As SDSU begun to open up a solid lead, Elijah Saunders tripped and missed a wide-open dunk attempt on the fast break. However, on the very next possession … he drained a wide-open three.

Credit: Don Da Mars Photography/ EVT News

What followed next was a 10-0 run by the Aztecs, putting their lead up big 25-12. The defense showed up big time as they stole the ball four times and also had two blocks less than 10 minutes in the half.

SDSU started the game hot from deep, going 5-6 to start. Long Beach shot the ball well, also going 2-3 from beyond the arc in the same span. However, SDSU would finish the game just 9-24 from deep.

Long Beach was in foul trouble early. With over seven minutes to go in the first half, the Aztecs were already in the bonus. SDSU certainly capitalized on that as they went 8-10 after starting 1-3 to finish the half.

Because of that, Beach switched to a 3-2 zone, as Dutcher mentioned, to try and disrupt the flow of the Aztecs’ pace up the floor.

Moments later, Micah Parrish did something that put the entire arena on their feet. With his off-hand, Parrish put Long Beach’s Marcus Tsohonis on a poster. He dunked the ball with authority. What made it even better was that he blocked the shot on the other side of the floor and took it for the slam all on his own.

Remember, last week, after the win over Cal State Fullerton, Parrish mentioned that it was on him to set the tone.

Boy, did he.

Credit: Don Da Mars Photography/ EVT News

SDSU kept shooting the ball well and finished the half, shooting 52%. SDSU led 47-39 at the break. The lead would have been bigger if LB didn’t have 10 points off of the Aztecs’ nine turnovers.

Waters started the second half and knocked down two free throws to get the action going for his squad.

He was the spark needed for San Diego State. He had a quick 10 points that really helped the Aztecs maintain control. Long Beach kept fighting and stayed in the game, and right when it seemed as if they would come back and tie it, Waters prevented that from happening.

“Motivation,” Waters said after being asked what caused his spark. “I was trying to stay aggressive. Coach Dave tells me all the time and reminded me of who I am, and I just tried to stay aggressive. He knows I can help the team.”

The Aztecs started to run away with the game, with about seven minutes remaining. A huge 9-0 run led to a 15-point lead, and from there, it was wrap. The plan on offense was to slow down and not let Beach get any unnecessary steals. Long Beach found success early on the second half with the full-court trap. Trammell even turned the ball over multiple times, leading to points on the other end. Once SDSU found their comfort and slowed down a bit, the turnovers came to a halt.

“The turnovers came from us not knowing exactly what they were doing,” Lamont Butler said. “Toward the end of the game we kinda just figured it out you know hit the open man, keep moving for each other, and it helped us out down the stretch.”

The Aztecs finished the game very strong, and it was clear the focus was to take care of the ball better down the stretch. They did that, and it kept Long Beach from coming all the way back.

This was huge win for SDSU Hoops as they get set for a fun weekend in Las Vegas.

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Up next: Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas this Friday, November 17, as they play in the Continental Tire Main Event. They will also play the winner of Xavier and Washington on the 19th.

News and Stats

  • Jaedon LeDee with another huge night. 27 points, 11 rebounds, and three steals.
  • Darrion Trammell with a team-high six assists.
  • Waters finished with 15 points, and Butler ended with 14.
  • Aztecs had just eight bench points tonight to LB’s 27.
  • All five SDSU starters scored in double figures for there first time since 2020.

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