UConn...
Mar 24, 2024; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Connecticut Huskies guard Stephon Castle (5) shoots the ball over Northwestern Wildcats forward Luke Hunger (33) in the second round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

UConn and San Diego State Meet in the Sweet 16

In a rematch of last year’s Men’s NCAA Tournament Championship Game, the one-seeded UConn Huskies (33-3) are playing the fifth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs (26-10) in the Sweet 16.

Built for the Moment

Both teams are familiar with the spotlight. They have changed since last year, but they are built from players who have been in or won a championship.

Aztecs

San Diego State’s backcourt is the same as last year. Lamont Butler and Darrion Trammell combined for 26 points in last year’s championship. Trammell leads the team in assists and is second in steals. Butler leads the team in steals and is second in assists. Along with these two, two other starters average over one steal per game making for a formidable defensive starting five.

Aztecs Head Coach Brian Dutcher talks about how beneficial it is to have his backcourt from last season.

The pair brings valuable starting experience, but Jaedon LeDee leads the team averaging 21.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game.

“We knew he was this good, he was just waiting for his opportunity,” Brian Dutcher said.

Last year he came off the bench as Matt Bradley was the star of the show. But with him gone, LeDee has stepped into this role with confidence.

Aztecs Head Coach Brian Dutcher talks about LeDee’s patience and work ethic.

Huskies

Like the Aztecs, UConn has multiple guys returning and is ready to handle the pressure. Tristen Newton leads the team in scoring this season, but also in last year’s championship with 19. Alex Karaban also started for the Huskies last year and is still in the starting lineup, and Donovan Clingan moved up from his role on the bench last season.

The Huskies offense can score with anyone. Every starter averages over 10 points per game and over four rebounds per game. They are 21st in scoring, and Cam Spencer knows how big of a threat UConn can be when they are playing on all cylinders defensively.

“We’re pretty confident that if we’re locked up on that end that we’re the best team,” Spencer said.

Spencer talks about how UConn can be the best team.

They play together and their bench is just as important, especially sixth man Hassan Diarra. He gives the Huskies almost 20 minutes a game, and 5.9 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 2.4 assists.

“He comes off the bench and he does great things. He plays great defense,” said Newton talking about Diarra.

Newton talks about how important Diarra is coming off the bench.

What to Look For

This game will come to the Aztecs’ defense against the Huskies’ offense. If UConn can score at will, then San Diego State will most likely look to LeDee to keep up. If UConn shuts him down, then it will become a struggle for the Aztecs to get the win.

UConn will play San Diego State tonight at 7:40 in the Sweet 16 of this year’s Men’s NCAA Tournament.

About Michael Tubbs

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