San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Aztec men’s basketball shut down Moore and the Spartans 64-49 in Mountain West Semifinal

The win sends the Aztecs to the Mountain West Conference Championship for the sixth straight year
Huy Huynh
Senior guard Darrion Trammell picks up Alvaro Cardenas full-court in San Diego State’s 64-49 win over San José State on March 10.

LAS VEGAS— The No. 18 San Diego State men’s basketball team entered Friday night’s Mountain West semifinal matchup versus the San José State Spartans with a tall task ahead of them — slow down Mountain West Player of the Year Omari Moore.

The Spartans captured their first-ever Mountain West Tournament win behind Moore’s 26-point and 10-assist performance yesterday, but the Aztecs ensured there was no encore for San José’s leader. SDSU executed the defensive game plan to near perfection, holding Moore to just eight points and 3-13 from the field in a 64-49 Aztec win. 

“He’s a great player,” senior guard Darrion Trammel said. “He likes to get downhill, uses screens very well, and makes reads very well. Our whole thing was we were switching one through five. Make his life hard and make all his catches hard.” 

The Aztecs were led by two seniors, Trammell and forward Keshad Johnson who both finished with a game-high 15 points. For the second time this year, Johnson found success on the offensive end against the Spartans, but he credited his teammates with finding him in spots where he could make plays. 

“Kudos to my teammates, they all found me,” Johnson said. “They know where I’m at before I get there so thank my point guards and thank my wings. We’re just a team that’s got great chemistry.”

Senior forward Keshad Johnson shoots a jump shot over two San José State defenders on March 10.
Senior forward Keshad Johnson shoots a jump shot over two San José State defenders on March 10. (Huy Huynh)

Trammell scored first for the Aztecs, opening with SDSU’s first five points of the game after a mid-range jumper and three free throws after being fouled on a 3-point attempt. However, Moore had five of his eight points in the first five minutes as the Spartans took an 8-7 lead into the first timeout. 

Six minutes into the game senior guard Matt Bradley gave the Aztecs the lead with a right-wing 3-pointer and SDSU did not look back. The Aztec defense came out of the timeout aggressively forcing the Spartans to take contested jumpers. In a two-minute span, two Spartan jump shots were wide-left as they smacked off the backboard. 11 of the Spartans’ first 17 shots came from behind the arc, but they were only able to get two to fall.

On the other side of the floor, the Aztecs were aggressive going to the rim, continuously attacking the Spartan rim protectors. 10 of the Aztecs’ first 18 points came in the paint and nearly every Aztec player was in on the action. 

“We’ve tried all year to become better at turning these ball screens or handoffs into the paint,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “Getting downhill is important. We try to get as many paint touches as we can.”

With just under five minutes remaining in the half and the shot clock ticking down to zero, senior forward Keshad Johnson drove to the rim and drilled a contested mid-range jumper to put the Aztecs up 23-12 and force San José State head coach Tim Miles to take a timeout to stop a 7-0 Aztec run. 

Out of the timeout, the Spartans finally found an answer on offense. Sophomore forward Tibet Görener scored the last eight Spartan points of the half including two threes, but 3-pointers by both junior guard Micah Parrish and Trammell sent the Aztecs to the locker room with a 33-20 lead — the largest to that point. 

“They made some big plays,” Görener said. “We had good momentum going but they made us pay for a couple missed assignments and missed communication.” 

The Aztecs’ defense was the story of the first half. They held the Spartans to only 26% shooting and forced six turnovers. The highlight of the first half included both of the Aztecs’ first-half leading scorers as Trammell collected a steal and pushed it ahead to a streaking Parrish who threw down a two-handed slam and sent the Thomas and Mack Center into a frenzy. 

 In both tournament games so far, the Aztec fans have made their presence felt and Dutcher said he isn’t surprised the SDSU faithful made the trip up the I-15. 

“Our Aztec fans love coming to Vegas,” Dutcher said. “A lot of times they’re waiting until they can get through work and then come on Friday and Saturday for the weekend, but we had it full of Aztec fans on Thursday and more today. It will be a hard ticket tomorrow; we will fill the building with Aztec fans.” 

The Aztecs opened the second half with a quick 7-2 run as an and-one by junior guard Lamont Butler and a two-handed flush by Johnson stretched the lead to 18 with 16:21 remaining. With SJSU desperate to gain some type of momentum, Görener hit his third 3-pointer of the game but Bradley hit a three of his own next time down the floor. Whenever the Spartans seemed to gain some traction, the Aztecs always had an answer. 

With six minutes remaining in the game, three straight Spartan baskets cut the lead to 11, but Butler responded with a 3-pointer. On the ensuing inbound, the Aztec defense forced a five-second violation and Butler went 1-for-2 at the line to put the Aztecs back up 15 and end any chance of a comeback as the Aztecs cruised to a 64-49 victory. 

Next up for the Aztecs is the Mountain West title game tomorrow at 3 p.m. It is the Aztecs’ sixth straight appearance in the title game and the 13th time in the last 15 years. They will play Utah State in the title game for the third time in the last four years. 

About the Contributors
Justin Cox
Justin Cox, '22-23 Sports Editor
Justin Cox (he/him) is a senior journalism major from Sonoma, California. He is excited to be a Co-Sports Editor of The Daily Aztec for the 2022-23 academic year. Previously, Cox was a sports section staff writer covering a multitude of Aztec sports including basketball, water polo, soccer and tennis. He is excited to head the sports section alongside Co-Editor Morgan Prickett with the hopes of providing fresh and engaging content for the student body. Before coming to The Daily Aztec, Cox spent time as an intern for the Sonoma Index-Tribune covering local news and was also published in the Sonoma Sun newspaper. Cox can often be found watching sports, running or going to the beach in his free time. 
Huy Huynh
Huy Huynh, Staff Writer
Huy Huynh was born and raised in San Diego, California and attended Patrick Henry High School in Del Cerro. After graduating, he studied at Grossmont College, right before transferring to San Diego State University as a psychology major with a minor in Digital and Social Media Studies. In his free time, he enjoys reading, making music, or creating videos, which he also does for work as a freelance videographer/editor. He is currently a staff writer for the Daily Aztec, working in multiple sections such as Arts and Culture as well as the News section. Huy is also bilingual in Vietnamese.
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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Aztec men’s basketball shut down Moore and the Spartans 64-49 in Mountain West Semifinal