It didn’t take much for San Diego State men’s basketball team to take apart a jet-lagged Texas Southern team.
The Aztecs were leading by 21 points at the half at the Viejas Arena on Wednesday. They were leading by as much as 41 points at one point.
“I was happy with our effort tonight,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “It’s about where I thought it would be playing a tired SWAC team after four games on the road. Things we wanted to take advantage of, we could. We said we wanted to really run them. We knew they would be tired, especially their bigs.”
Texas Southern (1-3) was selected to finish second in the Southwestern Athletic Conference but had been on the road since the season started. The Tigers lost to Gonzaga, 104-67, Saturday night and 85-73 at Iowa State on Monday.
Even though the Tigers were selected to finish above Arkansas-Pine Bluff, a team the Aztecs beat only by 16 points, SDSU was able to easily pick apart Texas Southern.
The Aztecs were 52 percent shooting and 44 percent on 3-pointers compared to the Tigers’ 33 percent and 19 percent respectively.
Matt Mitchell, who led SDSU in scoring at 21 points, made his first 10 points in the first 12 minutes of the game en route to a 103-64 win over Southern Texas.
Jalen McDaniels, who declared for the NBA draft but withdrew to come back for his sophomore season, had 14 points and nine rebounds for SDSU (2-0). He opened the scoring for the Aztecs with a 3-pointer and had seven points, four rebounds and one steal within the opening five minutes.
“That’s the one advantages of having at the five to start the game,” Dutcher said. “We knew the 7-foot-2 player lead would not come out on that. So, we ran a play where everybody touched the ball and then ran that screen from where he could step out on shoot it.”
Nathan Mensah had 11 points and Jeremy Hemsley scored 10.
The real worry for the Aztecs wasn’t the game Wednesday night. It’s who they will face next Monday at the Maui Invitational, No. 1 Duke. SDSU is 0-2 against the Blue Devils.
“We shared the ball pretty good. I was a little concerned at the end of the game when they pressured us,” Dutcher said. “We know that’s what we’re going to see against Duke.”
Duke was also the team Dutcher wants to play the most at the invitational.
“I don’t want to go over and not have the chance to play the No. 1 team in the country,” he said. “That’s why these kids come to San Diego State. We promise them we’re going to play marquee games and give them the opportunity to play on the biggest stage.”
Not only is Duke No. 1 in the country, but it also has a size advantage of SDSU. Freshman power forward Zion Williamson is 6-foot-7 and 285 pounds. The beefiest guy on the Aztecs’ team is Mitchell, who is 6-6 and 230.
How does he feel going up against Williamson?
“We’ll take it one day at a time,” Mitchell said. “Today it was Texas Southern and next time it’ll be Duke. The game after that is whoever it is and we’ll just take it one game at a time.”