The Aztecs once again show the importance of depth during semifinal victory

Behind Darrion Trammell and Keshad Johnson’s combined 30 points, the Aztec defense and offense did little wrong en route to a comfortable 64-49 victory over San Jose State


Huy Huynh

SDSU senior gaurd Darrion Trammell steps back with the ball against San José State on March 10, 2023.

by Morgan Prickett, Sports Editor

LAS VEGAS — Time and time again when you think this No. 18 San Diego State men’s basketball team is down or lacking, someone steps up.

Whether it’s a starter or bench player, the Aztecs’ depth constantly reminds the college basketball world how important each and every player that suits up really is.

Versus San José State University in the conference semifinals, senior Matt Bradley, junior Lamont Butler and senior Jaedon LeDee combined for 17 points. The game prior against Colorado State University, the three combined for 39 points as they led the Aztecs in scoring en route to a narrow 64-61 victory. 

One would imagine that if these three were struggling, the Aztecs would likely be losing or at least in a close contest. But that was not the case.

The Aztecs held the lead over the Spartans for 37:23 of the game’s 40 minutes as contributions from both the bench and the starting lineup willed the Aztecs to a 64-49 victory over the Spartans. 

And it was not just the contributions that you find on the stat sheet making the difference. The Aztecs needed to do the little things right to make sure that this Spartan team was not to defeat them.

Whether it was 5’10 senior Darrion Trammell boxing out 7’ junior Ibrahima Diallo, senior Aguek Arop cleaning the offensive boards or even spot-up shooter junior Micah Parrish running the floor for a fast break dunk, every Aztec that saw time on the court chipped in for some meaningful minutes.

“Our depth is our strength,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “I think everybody on the team has led us in scoring. So tonight it was Darrion and Keshad. It might be Nate, could be Jaedon. Anybody on our team is capable of scoring the ball because we play the right way. We share it.”

Trammell and Johnson stepped up today to lead the game in scoring with 15 each. Just last game against CSU, Trammell struggled tremendously going 0-5 from the field and finishing with zero points.

“My teammates and my coaches, they’ve just been telling me to keep shooting.” Trammell said. “They put the ultimate trust in me, so I appreciate that from them. Like I said, just take the shots. When you are in a slump, the only way you can get out of it is to shoot out of it, really.”

Johnson’s consistent play was crucial as well, as it has been all season. The 6’7 forward missed only one field goal throughout the game going 6-7.

SDSU senior Keshad Johnson hangs on to the rim following a flush against San José State on March 10, 2023.
SDSU senior Keshad Johnson hangs on to the rim following a flush against San José State on March 10, 2023. (Huy Huynh)

“Coach does a great job of letting us know it can be any of our nights each and every day that we go out there and play,” Johnson said. “Like you see yesterday with Matt Bradley’s game, today was me and Darrion’s game, and that’s just the beauty of our team. It’s our depth.”

Leading the team in rebounds tonight was senior Nathan Mensah with eight and Parrish with seven. The game prior, Johnson and LeDee led the team with eight rebounds each — once again showing the variety in the Aztecs’ performances and emphasizing the importance of their depth.

The Aztecs let 13 different players hit the floor on Friday, with nine of them all playing over 12 minutes. Seven of those nine played 20 minutes or more. That’s quite the luxury when you are expected to play three games in the span of three days.

The Aztecs will return for their final game in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 11 where they will face Utah State University in the final of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.