Alabama Basketball Opponent Preview: San Diego State Aztecs

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Alabama basketball takes on the San Diego State Aztecs in a Sweet Sixteen showdown on Friday evening. The Crimson Tide looks to advance to the Elite Eight for just the second time in school history.

The Aztecs, who earned the no. 5 seed in the South region, are a formidable opponent. In year six under head coach Brian Dutcher, San Diego State has put together an impressive 29-6 record, winning the Mountain West regular season and tournament championships along the way. In NCAA Tournament play, SDSU beat no. 12 seed College of Charleston and no. 13 seed Furman to reach the Sweet Sixteen.

The Aztecs prefer to play slow tempo, low-possession basketball. They are very strong defensively, and rank among the nation’s best teams on that end of the floor. Statistically, they are average at best offensively. San Diego State will have a difficult matchup against an Alabama team that is elite offensively and defensively, and can win games in a multitude of different ways.

Alabama Basketball vs San Diego State Personnel

The Aztecs implement a balanced scoring attack that is difficult to prepare for, but they are led by senior Matt Bradley.

Bradley is a big-bodied guard who has started 135 games and racked up over 2,200 points over five years of collegiate competition. He is a dangerous scorer from anywhere on the court, and leads SDSU with 13.0 points per game.

Alabama has several good defenders in its backcourt, and could throw guys like Nimari Burnett, Jaden Bradley, and Rylan Griffen at Matt Bradley. Nate Oats could also choose to defend Bradley with more length at times, with wings like Brandon Miller or Noah Gurley.

Senior guard Darrion Trammell (9.5 points per game, 3.2 assists per game) and junior guard Lamont Butler (8.6 points per game, 3.2 assists per game) round out the Aztecs’ veteran backcourt. This group is very solid on both ends of the floor, and will be difficult competition for Jahvon Quinerly, Marks Sears, and company.

San Diego State uses a deep frontcourt rotation, led by a trio of seniors. Nathan Mensah, Keshad Johnson, and TCU transfer Jaedon Ledee are a physical and experienced group. Collectively, they are undersized and not particularly skilled, but they are effective in concert with the Aztecs’ talented guards.

At 6’10”, Nathan Mensah is the most formidable of the SDSU bigs, and the most likely to be able to compete with the massive frontcourt of Alabama Basketball. He leads SDSU with 5.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in just over 20 minutes per contest. The Aztecs would be wise to try to keep Mensah out of foul trouble, as there is not much legitimate size behind him.

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Alabama Basketball will take on San Diego State at 5:30 CT Friday evening, hoping to add another chapter to its historic season.