Parrish and Waters bounce back in major way for Aztecs

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

The short URL of the present article is:
Spread the love
Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

“Reese (Waters) and Micah (Parrish) are going to make shots (Friday),” said SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher following his team’s defeat of UNLV on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Tournament. “I’m convinced of it. They’re too good of players and shooters, and I think the ocean will open up tomorrow, and it will look like the size of the ocean, the rim. We’re making shots tomorrow.”

Waters missed six of seven shots in Thursday’s contest and 19 of his last 23 shots over four games. 

Parrish missed all eight shot attempts, six of which came behind the arc. He also missed two free throws at the end of regulation that would have iced the game and allowed UNLV to send the game to overtime. 

Dutcher praised Parrish’s overall game despite his shortcomings putting the ball into the basket.

“He guards at a high level, rebounds,” Dutcher explained. “I just said to be a really good basketball player you have to have a short memory. Anything that happened (Thursday), it’s in the rearview mirror. Come out and make every shot you take next game, and shoot like you think you’re going to. It’s important for a coach to give his team confidence even when it doesn’t seem like they deserve any.”

Both players made their coach look good on Friday. 

Parrish banked in a turnaround jumper three possessions into the game. By halftime, he had ten points on 5 of 6 shooting. All six attempts came inside the arc as Parrish looked to get his confidence lifted with shots closer to the rim. His only miss in the half was a drive to the rim that drew contact but not a whistle.

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

With Jaedon LeDee saddled with foul trouble in the first half, Parrish helped keep the Aztecs within striking distance so they could pull off their big second-half comeback victory. 

After a Utah State 22-2 run to take a 17-point lead, Parrish stopped the bleeding with another turnaround jumper that parlayed into an Aztec run to only trail by three at the half. 

“We know our coaches believe in us,” said Parrish postgame. “They put time in us and watch film with us. I know I appreciate it to have a coaching staff like this, to have the coaching staff believe in us.”

On the second possession of the second half, Parrish curled around a screen on the left wing and drained a three-pointer to tie the game at 41. It would be Parrish’s only basket of the half (on six attempts), but the senior forward made his 15 points, seven rebounds, two steals, and one block count in a monumental way and a team-high +23. 

“My performances the last couple of months, since the beginning of the year, haven’t been up to my standard,” admitted Parrish. “I know I had to break out soon. I know I put the work in. I work every day on my shot, so I knew one day it was going to come. I guess (Friday) it came. Hopefully it keeps going throughout the whole tournament run.” 

For the second straight game, Waters entered the game off the bench in attack mode. For one half at least, it felt like his aggressiveness would not achieve success. He missed four of his first five shots for two points. 

The second half was a different story. He knocked in 4 of 6 shots for nine points in the pivotal half. 

“I was concerned before the game with Micah Parrish and Reese Waters,” said Utah State head coach Danny Sprinkle. “Because they’re really, really good scorers. They were due to break out at some point. Like, they’re too talented of scorers to play how they kind of have been playing. I thought both of those guys were terrific today.”

Waters admitted postgame that playing games back-to-back allows the players to not sit and think about poor performances. 

“I think as a team not having a week to sit down and think about maybe whatever you did in the game that you didn’t like, it definitely helps that you have a (quick) turnaround,” Waters added. “So you have to focus on the next game. You don’t have time to sit there and think about or get in your own mind or thought about it.”

Dutcher applauded Waters’ offensive rebounds and running balls down, which impacted the game, while adding that “when (Waters and Parrish) are both making shots, then they really impact the game.”

“Now that they have a little rhythm, hopefully that continues into (Saturday) night and into the NCAA Tournament.”

I'd like this amount to  

Strong guard play wins in March

The story of the 2023 Aztecs was a veteran-savvy and deep 9-man team that could defend any team in America to submission. But their run to the National Championship game was on the backs of their starting backcourt. 

Darrion Trammell earned South Regional MVP for his elite performance against 1-seed Alabama and the game-winning free throw against Creighton to send the team to the Final Four.  

Credit: Deanna Gold/ EVT Sports

Lamont Butler drained the buzzer-beater that sent the team to the title game.

Both have had their struggles offensively this season, but they are finding their stride in the most important month of the year. The one that counts. 

Against UNLV, Trammell scored 11 points (4/9 FG, 3/4 3PT), dished out five assists and collected five steals. His halftime-buzzer-beating triple changed the momentum of the game. Butler added 12 points (5/8 FG, 0/1 3PT, 2-2 FT) and three assists. 

On Friday, both were even better. Trammell added another halftime-buzzer-beater to his already impressive end-of-half resume as part of his ten points (2/5 FG, 2/4 3PT, 4/5 FT). Once again, the shot ignited the Aztecs into a second-half surge that propelled them to a victory.

He duplicated his five assists from Thursday night (only one turnover), and his +20 was second-best on the team behind Parrish.

Butler was arguably better, scoring 16 points (4/8 FG, 3/5 3PT, 5/8 FT), dishing out three assists to only one turnover, and adding five rebounds. In the second half when the Aggies were attempting a comeback, Butler hit timely shots. 

Moreso, he and Trammell not only controlled the pace of the game, they combined to harass First-Team All-Mountain West guard Darius Brown II into a 3 of 11 shooting (eight points) night.

“Lamont and Darrion are great,” said Dutcher. “They’re Final Four starting guards. They should be good. They’re used to playing this time of the year.” 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *