Throughout their run in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament the San Diego State University Aztecs have used second-half scoring surges to put away their opponents, and their second-half scoring surge against the University of Connecticut Huskies came up five minutes short as they lost 76-59 in the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship Game in Houston.
The Aztecs’ struggled with both the size and speed of the Huskies in the first half, after making a strong start and jumping out to a 10-8 lead five minutes into the game. The lead was built by two consecutive three-pointers and put the Huskies on their heels as they used a sagging defense to encourage the Aztecs to shoot from the outside.
However, the Huskies will be remembered for their scoring runs throughout the tournament, as they won each game by double digits, and the Aztecs were the victim of several runs, the first being an 8-0 run that saw the Huskies grab the lead they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
From there the Huskies went on another 20-12 run to close the first half and the Aztecs found themselves down 36-24.
But for anyone following the Aztecs throughout this entire March Madness run, you knew the game was far from over.
Nine minutes into the second half the Aztecs still found themselves down by 15, trailing 38-53 and the game seemed like a coronation for the Huskies. However, a made three-pointer by Final Four hero and junior Aztec guard Lamont Butler once again spearheaded an Aztec run
Over the next the Aztecs went on a 17-7 scoring run over the next 5:30 of the game, relying on an even attack of free throws, three-pointers, layups and jump shots. The Aztecs the lead down to 55-60 with 5:19 left, positioning themselves to be the author of the greatest comeback in the history of the championship game.
The five-point lead was as close as the Aztecs would get as the Huskies responded with an 11-2 scoring over the next 3:30 to close the game and seal the national championship. Three Aztecs finished the game scoring in double digits, as the team as a whole only shot 32 percent from the field and only 26 percent from the three-point line. Three Huskies finished the game scoring in double digits, but they shot 43 percent from the field and 35 percent from the three-point line.
Aztec Alum Excitement
In contrast to prior years when the Aztec basketball team has been higher seeded with an expectation of a deep run into March Madness, this surprising run all the way to the championship game has brought in San Diego State University alumni who have watched the team improve from afar over the last decade.
“I have not paid much attention to San Diego State University men’s athletics since I left school in the mid-1980s, and barely did when I was in school,” said Roxanne Cooper, a media executive based in the Sacramento area. “But it was hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the Aztecs’ formidable March Madness performance this year. I think I could be paying more attention to them in the future.”
For the San Diego market, March used to be known for spring breakers and tourists, it has now forever been changed to the month for Aztecs’ 2023 March Madness run…
— San Diego State Men’s Basketball (@Aztec_MBB) April 4, 2023