Bryce Miller: Final Four-bound Aztecs will talk about Sunday's win 'for the rest of our lives'

Bryce Miller, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Basketball

As San Diego State cavorted around the KFC Yum! Center basketball court Sunday with sections of snipped netting dangling from championship hats and black and red confetti sticking to sneakers, every beaming face told a story.

Redemption. Reclamation. Rebirth. Re-whatever.

The Aztecs outlasted Creighton, 57-56, in a game drenched in drama with a controversial foul call, gut-wrenching free throws, a length-of-the-court pass, a premature celebration, a minutes-long review by officials — all in the final 1.2 seconds — to seal a spot in the Final Four.

When the din drained and euphoria gathered its wits, bigger pictures emerged.

Anywhere and everywhere someone looked, there was a player who found a jump shot just in time, another who nearly quit, another who rolled the dice on a last chance, another who surmounted a crisis of confidence, an assistant coach who picked up the pieces.

San Diego State is a special type of basketball team, as their upcoming trip to Houston for a shot to play in Monday's national championship game shows with pudding-stuffed proof.


They're also one giant mixing bowl of mismatched ingredients, baked into something that would make the Cake Boss cut. Many have struggled. Many have bounced back. Some left comfortable things behind to bear hug the uncomfortable.

Start at the top, with coach Brian Dutcher, the man who won and won and won, until the NCAA Tournament arrived.

"You'd hear people say, oh, he's a great regular-season coach, but can't win in the tournament," Aztecs Athletic Director J.D. Wicker said as players ascended a ladder to claim parts of the net behind him. "It's a learning process. It's hard. Why shouldn't he do this? He's been there before was an assistant coach (at Michigan).

"I'm not surprised."


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