After a gritty first 26 minutes of the game, the San Diego State men’s basketball team returned to their shooting woes.
The Aztecs went through a seven-minute scoring drought featuring seven turnovers, eight missed shots, and a 14-0 Michigan run that gave the Wolverines an 18 point lead capitalized by an Eli Brooks three-pointer, which blew the roof off the Crisler Center Arena.
The deficit was too big, and the Aztecs fell to the Wolverines 72-58.
The Wolverines followed up their ugly 51 point performance against North Carolina with an offensive explosion against the Aztecs.
They shot 11/20 from three and 46% from the field.
“When you run into a team that shoots that high of a percentage from three, it’s tough to get a win, especially in their home gym,” Coach Dutcher said after the game.
The Wolverines were headlined by All-American Hunter Dickinson and freshman Caleb Houstan. Dickinson finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds and played all but one minute of the game. Houstan, who came into the game with offensive struggles, got going at an inopportune time for the Aztecs as he shot 4/5 from three and finished with a career-high 17 points.
Matt Bradley served as the Aztecs’ only reliable offensive threat as he finished the game with 22 points. No other player reached double figures.
The first game without Lamont Butler showed its ugly head as the Wolverines utilized a full-court press to keep the Aztec offense out of sync. The Aztecs finished with a season-high 16 turnovers.
“Michigan is super long and athletic. They sped us up a bit,” Bradley said after the game.
Offensively, no guard could fill the void as Adam Seiko, who returned to the lineup after missing the last two games with a quad contusion, and Trey Pulliam shot a combined 3/14 from the field.
“We miss Lamont, but we can’t complain about it. We just have to find ways to win until he comes back,” Dutcher said
After struggling with the height and athleticism from USC, the Aztecs faired better against a Wolverine team that started three players over 6’8. However, they once again lost the rebound battle and have now lost it in all of their losses.
The Aztecs did show toughness in the 1st half, though, as they weathered the hot shooting storm from the Wolverines. The Wolverines, with 7:30 remaining in the half, led 28-18 and shot 57% from the field. After two thunderous Keshad Johnson dunks, the Aztecs went on an 8-0 run to close the deficit.
Matt Bradley had 14 first-half points on 6/8 shooting as he kept the Scarlet and Black in the game.
Dickinson, who came into the game with only one made three, closed the half on a three at the last second, which was one of the three three-pointers he recorded in the game. The three gave the Wolverines a 36-34 lead and was a sign for how the second half would go as they continued to shoot into a hula hoop for the rest of the game.
Aztecs aren’t discouraged over the loss. “We’re going to get back to work. I think it’s going to show moving forward how much better we’re going to become because of this loss,” Bradley said.
The Aztecs will now look to get back on track on Wednesday as they return to the friendly confines of Viejas Arena to face Cal State Fullerton.