Men’s basketball spear the Sun Devils in the heart 65-63

Lamont+Butler+%28center%29+driving+to+the+basket+against+Arizona+State.+Butler+finished+the+game+with+14+points.

Shota Shiromizu

Lamont Butler (center) driving to the basket against Arizona State. Butler finished the game with 14 points.

by Adam Correa, Staff Writer

The San Diego State Aztecs (2-1) won a tight one against the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2) Thursday night 65-63. The Aztecs are now 9-6 against the Sun Devils in Viejas Arena but ASU still leads the series overall 18-12.

The Aztecs’ defense was impressive in the first half with great rebound control, collecting 19 rebounds to the Sun Devils 15.

The breakout performers from the first half were senior guard Matt Bradley with eight points and junior forward Keshad Johnson with six points.

ASU graduate forward Kimani Lawrence was the breakout performer for the Sun Devils, posting 10 points, six rebounds and had a 5-6 field goal percentage.

Senior guard Trey Pulliam had no points in the first half and said he was looking to be a playmaker and couldn’t take the shots that he wanted to.

“I really didn’t take too many shots either so I wasn’t trying to look to my shot,” Pulliam said. “I don’t really like to play too aggressive, I just like to play with the flow. So I really was just trying to fill it out and just distribute and look to make the best play.”

At the end of the first half, ASU led 30-28 after graduate guard Marreon Jackson hit a late three-pointer. Both teams had only two three-pointers made in the half.

At the start of the second half, there was a controversial shooting foul called on Johnson that led to Bradley getting a technical foul after he pointed up to the scoreboard.

“I didn’t foul him (the ASU player) at all,” Johnson said. “I guess the ball went up in the air and he lost it. The refs made a bad call.” 

“Things happen. I can’t control that as a player I just got to have a next play mentality,” Johnson said.

With only two points in the first half, sophomore guard Lamont Butler had an electric second half, overall putting up 14 points, three assists and three defensive rebounds.

Butler said he knew he struggled in the first half but was able to improve in the second half.

“Just slowing my game down a little and letting the game come to me and just staying aggressive as well,” Butler said. “I was able to get open and hit some shots.”

The Aztecs had 17 points off of turnovers to the Sun Devils eight. SDSU continued to play efficient defense and capitalized on ASU’s mistakes.

SDSU was 29 percent from the three-point line with clutch three’s from Butler and senior guard Adam Seiko.

Head coach Brian Dutcher was impressed with the team’s performance beyond the arc.

“I mean we opened the game like we’re a three-point shooting team, I think our first six shots were threes,” Dutcher said. “For a team that’s really low in percentage (three-point), we weren’t afraid to take them and that’s what I want.”

With about a minute left in the game, Pulliam put up a floater to give SDSU a 64-63.

The ball was given back to the Sun Devils and they weren’t able to capitalize on their chance and the ball was back into the Aztecs hands.

Bradley made one out of two free throws with eight seconds remaining in a two-point lead.

ASU had to hustle down the floor and the ball was given to freshman guard Jamiya Neal in the corner and he shot a three at the buzzer but it skimmed the rim and the crowd went nuts.

“Both teams played hard as heck and they competed at a high level and so sometimes that’s enough,” Dutcher said about both teams’ performances. “It was tonight that we competed and fought and toughed out a win.”

The Aztecs look to carry this momentum into their next matchup against UT Arlington at the Viejas Arena on Nov. 20.

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