San Diego State squeezes life out of Furman, advances to third Sweet 16 in program history

Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida has a python problem.

They are not indigenous to the region, but Burmese pythons became fashionable pets in the 1970s and when they grew too big, their owners thought, well, why not just release them into the Everglades?

Then they started eating everything in sight and having babies. The concern now is they're working their way north.

There was a sighting in Orlando on Saturday, in the Amway Center in the NCAA Tournament's round of 32.

San Diego State wrapped itself around the Furman Paladins and mercilessly squeezed the life out of Cinderella, racing to a 14-point halftime lead and winning 75-52 to advance to the school's third Sweet 16 appearance — Friday in Louisville, potentially against No. 1 overall seed Alabama.

Or as Charles Barkley put it on the CBS halftime studio show, after the Paladins went nearly 11 minutes without a basket and were outscored 22-10 in the paint: "These are grown men. Furman has college kids. They can't handle the physicality."


The Aztecs (29-6) have been waiting for this performance, putting both ends of the floor together and wrapping it in an NCAA bow. The defense was good, but the offense wasn't. The offense improved, but then the defense slipped. Then the defense ramped up but the offense disappeared.

Saturday, the offense and the defense were spectacular.

They looked tight in the opening moments of an ugly 63-57 win against Charleston here on Thursday, but the win was the school's first since 2015 and, more significantly, the first for coach Brian Dutcher in six seasons as head coach.

A monkey, an albatross, an anvil, whatever your metaphor of choice, was clearly lifted.


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