The Aztecs play No. 8 UCLA in a basketball scrimmage
The scoreboard indicated that No. 19 San Diego State was down against No. 8 UCLA in their close basketball game Sunday at Viejos Arena.
Everything else was a win.
“Everything you wanted to happen happened,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. “We were shown some things we needed to work on, we saw some things we thought we were going to be good at and we were, everybody got to play and nobody got hurt. It’s a perfect matchup.”
They learned they can hang with the No. 8 team in the country, which returns a pair of all-conference players, even after falling behind 18-2. And they won’t have to worry about getting big heads after beating them by failing to make some key stops and defensive rebounds in the 89-87 final.
“The bottom line is we played at a good level,” Dutcher said. “Whether we won by one or lost by two, I don’t think it mattered. The important thing is that we played against a very good team. I don’t care about the results one way or the other.”
The scrimmage was closed to fans, boosters and the media, and good luck getting a copy of the film, but several people who saw it described a fierce, physical battle between big, strong, long, athletic teams.
“These were grown men,” Dutcher said.
“Bloodbath,” said another man.
Dutcher started with Seattle trade Darion Trammell and his four returning starters: Lamont Butler, Matt Bradley, Keshad Johnson and Nathan Mensah. TCU transfer Jadon Leddy played the starter’s minutes off the bench (27) and responded with a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds). Trammell led the Aztecs with 24 points and Bradley had 18 after a slow first half.
All 12 scholarship players on the roster got time, though Aguek Orop (four minutes) was intentionally limited given his injury history and Dutcher’s repeated mantra that “we need him in February and March, not October.”
The Aztecs thought they would be great on the glass and hoped they would be better in transition. They both grabbed 20 offensive boards (to lead the Bruins to 12) and scored 27 points for the fast break. The 87 points were 21 more than last season’s average and seven more than in any single game.
It was good.
The bad: Mick Cronin’s Bruins shot 50.8 percent overall and 45.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc. Tiger Campbell and Jaime Jaques Jr. did the most damage, combining for 57 points and 10 3s.
Translation: The Aztecs will have many learning points on film.
“Something to work on,” Dutcher said. “It wasn’t just running out there and feeling good. Nobody loves offense more than I do, but we’re going to win with our defense in this program, and we’ve got to be the best we can be. But that’s the one thing I’m not going to worry about because we have four starters back from the No. 2 defense in the country.
“And you’re going up against Campbell and Jaques, two veterans, talented players. They were sensational. They’re the real deal.”
More room for improvement: Too many losses at guard because, as Dutcher said, “we can’t rebuild the loss.”
They will have a week of practice to get things right before a Nov. 1 exhibition with the fans against NAIA San Diego Christian. The season opener is Nov. 7, also at Viejas Arena, against Cal State Fullerton. BYU comes to town in four days.