SDSU 82, Tulsa 63: 21-4 run buries Golden Hurricane, Aztecs to play USF in Diamond Head final

Christmas Day is looking up for San Diego sports fans, even after the Chargers gave (yes, gave) the Cleveland Browns their first win of the season.  Malik Pope was out of action Friday (knee), but his teammates picked up the slack and then some against a hot shooting Tulsa team. SDSU gave the Golden Hurricane (a 2016 NCAA Tournament team) a taste of its own medicine, bringing it on defense in the second half and drilling 8 of 15 second half three point attempts. The Aztecs play for the Diamond Head Classic title at 5:00 PST on ESPN2 against the University of San Francisco, former home of transfer guard Devin Watson.

A few quick thoughts and clips from Friday’s action:

Dutcher is tinkering

In the most recent episode of Aztec Basketball with Steve Fisher on Fox Sports San Diego, host Mike Pomeranz noted that many players refer to Associate Head Coach Brian Dutcher as “an offensive mastermind”.  Many fans may chuckle at that notion.  Recent seasons haven’t netted much praise for SDSU’s team offense, save for the individual brilliance of Xavier Thames and Jamaal Franklin.

But amidst the recent 3 game losing streak and quick turn around, Dutcher and the team are trying stuff—see that as glass half full/empty as you wish.  The Aztecs toyed with a triangle in the most literal sense, with a man at the free throw line looking to enter the ball to Zylan Cheatham on one block and Malik Pope on the other.  It resulted in some easy buckets, but it didn’t take teams long to snuff that stuff out.

Friday, we saw what could be the foundation of something new that actually keeps some concept of spacing in mind:


Dakarai Allen and Zylan Cheatham set a pair of screens for Matt Shrigley to bolt out to the corner.  If even one of those screens is solid, somebody is going to be open.  Friday, Tulsa’s three defenders involved in the action leaned toward Shrigley, leaving Allen wide open 5 feet from the rim.  Trey Kell and Jeremy Hemsley make this action sing positioned at the top of the key because their men can’t leave them open out there to help elsewhere.  Here’s to hoping that Dutcher can successfully add layers to this base action so his team can squeeze more easy buckets out of defenses.

Help for Hemsley

Jeremy Hemsley cannot get a call of late.  I suppose some refs may say he leans back so much once he’s airborne that it’s tough to tell whether that was induced by a slight shove.  But he can’t keep drawing the short straw on some of his drives.  He’s getting hacked.

Read the full piece (link)

Header photo via Marco Garcia/USA Today Sports

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