SDSU advances past Sac. State, 89-52, in Wooden Legacy


Photo by Samantha Bonpensiero

Junior guard Devin Watson (0) drives the ball up the court during the Aztecs 91-52 victory over San Diego Christian on Nov. 10 at Viejas Arena.

by Abraham Jewett, Assistant Sports Editor

San Diego State men’s basketball kicked off its second-ever appearance in the Wooden Legacy Tournament with a blowout 89-52 victory over Sacramento State on Thanksgiving night in Fullerton, Calif. 

SDSU (4-1), which won the tournament in 2013, showed no ill effects from the quarterfinal game’s 10:08 p.m. tip off time, scoring the first 12 points before ending the opening half on an 18-3 run to go into the break with a 49-14 lead.

“We shared the ball, got out on the fast break, made shots right away,” SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher said. “We were able to build a quick lead and then maintain that momentum.”

The Aztecs were led on offense by junior guard Devin Watson’s 12 points, two assists and three steals, and shot 48 percent from the field to quickly pull away from the Hornets, who shot only 36 percent in the game.

“I think we played well defensively, we had a strategy and I think we executed,” Watson said.

Sac. State (1-4) had a historically bad performance in the first half, finishing with a tournament record-low 14 points while shooting only 23 percent (6 for 26) from the field and committing nearly as many turnovers (13) as points scored.

“We got down and got overwhelmed, we’re certainly better than we played but I don’t ever want to minimize the oppositions performance, I thought they were really really good,” Hornets head coach Brian Katz said. “I thought that we got off to a slow start and never really recovered.”

Sac. State did not record its first field goal of the game until a jumper by junior guard Jordan Tolbert got the team to within 12-3 with 13:40 to play in the first half.

The Aztecs, in contrast, looked fresh, with all 11 active players scoring at least one bucket while out-rebounding the Hornets 50 to 26.

Redshirt freshman forward Jalen McDaniels helped contribute on the glass for SDSU by posting a career high 13 rebounds to go with eight points.

The Aztecs did not take their foot off the gas after the break, making seven of their first eight shots to start the second half on a 16-4 run.

The run included back-to-back dunks by senior forward Malik Pope, who finished with seven points and five rebounds, before sitting out the majority of the second half. 

Senior guard Trey Kell and freshman forward Matt Mitchell both finished with 11 points to join Watson in double figures for SDSU.

After missing their first 14 three-point attempts, Sac. State finally converted from behind the arc when junior guard Kevin Hicks hit back-to-back threes to get the Hornets to within 71-30 with 10:49 remaining in the game.

The Aztecs led by as many as 47 points in the second half before sitting its starters for most of the final period.

“I didn’t have to play my starters major minutes,” Dutcher said. “It’s a quick turnaround so hopefully we saved some legs for tomorrow’s game.”

SDSU will take on undefeated University of Georgia (4-0) in the semifinals of the Wooden Legacy, set to tip-off today at 4:00 p.m. pacific time.