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

Still dancing — SDSU men’s basketball headed to the Sweet 16

Bench depth propels the Aztecs to deepest March Madness run since 2014
Huy Huynh
Junior guard Micah Parrish drives on a Colorado State defender on March 9, 2023.

For the third time in 12 years, the San Diego State men’s basketball team is headed to the Sweet 16 after wins over the College of Charleston and Furman University in the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in Orlando. 

The two wins were the first NCAA Tournament wins for the Aztecs since 2015 and the first two of head coach Brian Dutcher’s career. He credited the teams’ chemistry for the postseason success after the 75-52 second-round win over Furman. 

“They play the right way, they’re for one another,” Dutcher said. “Most teams can’t play this deep a bench and have great chemistry. We have incredible chemistry playing a nine-man rotation and that’s been key to our success. We play selfless, we play together and we’re all about winning.” 

A key in both matchups was the bench-point discrepancy. The Aztec bench dominated in both games outscoring Charleston 24-8 and Furman 27-11. 

One key bench contributor in both games was junior guard Micah Parrish. 

In the teams’ 63-57 first-round win over Charleston, the Aztecs struggled mightily from 3-point land finishing only 4 for 16 from behind the arc. But with the Aztecs clinging to a 55-53 lead with 1:47 left, Parrish caught a pass at the top of the key and rose and drilled a 3-pointer to give the Aztecs some breathing room. 

The 12th-seeded Charleston Cougars were a popular upset pick by national pundits and the public. According to the NCAA, Charleston was the second most picked No. 8 seed or lower to reach the Sweet 16 after finishing the season 31-3 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Parrish’s 3-pointer, however, ended any threat of an upset. 

Parrish followed that up with a team-high 16 points in the second-round matchup against Furman. 

“It was really my teammates finding me in transition,” he said. “We just try to find an open guy. Each game might not be your game, but I guess today was mine, and my teammates just kept finding me.” 

All season long when the Aztecs needed a bucket, they turned to senior guard Matt Bradley and in the teams’ first two March Madness games, it was no different. The Aztecs’ leading scorer played like the best player on the court in both games. Versus Charleston, he finished with a game-high 16 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists and then was a high team +25 against Furman. The two wins were also Bradley’s first NCAA Tournament wins after last year’s overtime loss to Creighton. 

“It’s a really big moment,” Bradley said after the Charleston game. “We’ve been battle tested all season, going to Maui, (and to) the Mountain West Tournament. So just to be here on the big stage, we’ve been through it. Glad we pulled this one out.” 

Bradley did most of his damage in the lane — continuously finishing contested layups around the basket — but he wasn’t the only Aztec who controlled the paint. SDSU dominated in paint scoring both games outscoring Charleston 38-26 and Furman a staggering 40-16. Rim defense from Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year, Nathan Mensah, and senior forwards Aguek Arop and Jaedon LeDee allowed the Aztecs to control the game and fueled SDSU’s transition offense. 

Dutcher said the defensive side of the floor is key to a deep postseason run. 

“We hang our hat on defense,” he said. “That’s the one thing we do every game. Then when we get the opportunity, we start making shots and play good offensively, then we’re really good.” 

The two wins were also the first NCAA Tournament wins for the Mountain West since 2018 as the conference was 1-11 in its last 12 March Madness games entering this year’s tournament. The other three Mountain West teams to earn a bid, Nevada, Boise State and Utah State, all lost in the round of 64. 

SDSU will meet the overall No. 1 seeded Alabama Crimson Tide in Louisville, Kentucky on Friday at 3:30 p.m. with a spot in the Elite Eight on the line.

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
Still dancing — SDSU men’s basketball headed to the Sweet 16