Jeremy Hemsley - Maui - SDSU
Jeremy Hemsley going for a jump shot against Xavier in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Photo courtesy of SDSU

The San Diego State men’s basketball team got off to a sluggish start Tuesday against Xavier in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational but overcame a 19-point deficit for a 79-74 win.

The Aztecs had a tough schedule this week playing against No. 1 Duke on Monday and then on Tuesday playing against a team that almost upset No. 8 Auburn on Monday.

The Musketeers (2-3) pulled out early and led by 19 before the Aztecs rallied back with a 19-3 run to close the half with a 3-point deficit, 37-40.

Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said he had planned for a 9:45 a.m. start time but the game actually started at 9:30, which was the reason for the sluggish start.

“So they got out on us so fast, they made every three, and even as a guy that sat through a lot of games I sat there and wondered what in the world are we going to do to come back in this thing,” he said.

Dutcher told his team during the 7:30 media timeout to the deficit by 10 points by halftime, the Aztecs got it down to within three. SDSU kept that momentum going with a 16-2 run early in the second half for a 58-49 lead.

“I was thinking we just need to get our energy up and start a little something because we had nothing going at all.” Jordan Schakel said. “Jalen started picking up full court, Jeremy gave us a lot of energy and I think we all fed off of that. And it was really the energy that got us going and the shots just fell later.”

The Musketeers, however, went down fighting just like they did on Monday when they took Auburn into overtime. Xavier rallied back and pulled within one point, 64-63, with three minutes left. But the Aztecs answered back, making 10 of 12 free throws in the final 47 seconds.

“Give San Diego all the credit in the world though, they got a couple tremendous players in Jalen McDaniels and Devin Watson who are tremendous players,” Musketeers coach Travis Steele said. “They fought back, like the Mike Tyson old saying, you find out what your plan is once you get punched and their plan was they punched right back and we didn’t have a response.”

The come-from-behind win was the largest comeback victory of the Dutcher era and the third largest for SDSU in the last 22 seasons.

McDaniels led the Aztecs with 25 points, Devin Watson had 21 and Schakel added 13.

Up next, SDSU plays Iowa State for fourth place at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday.