Aztecs advance to sweet 16 for first time since 2014. Await winner of Alabama/ Maryland.
Firing on all cylinders (or on all batteries) the Aztecs (29-6) put together a dominating performance Saturday morning, beating Furman 75-52. They had no trouble on offense, controlling the paint and shooting 50% from the field. They also were consistent with their foul shots, hitting 11/14. Comfortably ahead 39-25 at half, they continued to dominate on both ends of the court. The Aztecs were paced by Micah Parrish who scored 16 points and gathered six rebounds. Darrion Trammell contributed 13 points, Lamont Butler added 12 points and 6 rebounds. Nathan Mensah owned the boards pulling down 9 rebounds. The Aztecs out-rebounded the Paladins 41-24, in a game that left no doubt about who was the better team. Cinderella lost her slipper and unfortunately, was smashed by the Aztec steamroller. Furman ends the year with a 28-8 record. They were paced by Mike Bothwell with 15 points, Alex Williams, off the bench with 11 and JP Pegues, who hit Thursdays game winner against Virginia, finished with 10.
The Aztecs removed doubts about their talent and ability to win tournament games. This will be the first time since 2004 that the Aztecs will be appearing in the Sweet 16. They will play either Alabama or Maryland next weekend in the South Regional semi-final in Louisville Kentucky. The Aztecs are peaking and playing at their best when it counts the most. “We’re playing our best basketball at the end of the season,” said coach Brian Dutcher. They are also representing the Mountain West Conference which has struggled in recent years. This will be the first conference team to reach the sweet 16 since Nevada did it in 2018. The defense has been the signature focus all year for coach Dutcher and his team. They have talented and athletic players at the key positions and have shown they are able to make a deep run. Will they be focused on their next opponent? Can they find two more wins? That will put them into the Final Four in Houston the weekend of April 1. Few questions remain to be answered on an otherwise successful season. The Aztecs have delivered. Just sit back and enjoy the magic.