Aztecs basketball ready for challenging schedule as team kicks off season


SAN DIEGO – The SDSU men’s basketball team opens its eason Tuesday night against UC Riverside at home.

The back-to-back Mountain West Conference Champions were picked to finish second in the preseason poll after posting a 23-5 record last season.

“This will be the hardest non-conference schedule in the five years I’ve been head coach here,” Brian Dutcher said.

First out of the gate, a matchup against UC Riverside, out of the Big West Conference, who didn’t make a postseason tournament last year, but finished above .500 and likes to slow the game down using the Princeton offense.

“I told the team yesterday, I may have overscheduled for the first game,” Dutcher continued.  

Guard Trey Pulliam returns for his senior season on the Mesa. He saw action in every game for the Aztecs last year, earning an all-conference honorable mention.

“In the offseason, I’ve definitely been working on my game,” senior guard Trey Pulliam said. “I watched a lot of film, just trying to improve overall.”

Cal transfer Matt Bradley is one of the new faces on the floor this year. The reigning second-team All-Pac 12 selection was recently named one of 50 players on the Naismith Trophy watchlist and the only player in the Mountain West Conference making the cut.

“Something you can’t teach is experience,” Bradley said. “When you have that type of age and leadership, I think we’ll be able to combat conflict very well and continue to get better.”

While that chemistry continues forming, four of the Aztecs’ 12 non-conference opponents played in a postseason tournament last year, including Michigan, who danced their way into the Elite 8 and a preseason top 10 team.

“We’ve challenged ourselves this year,” Dutcher said. “When you have these types of games, you have to have an NBA mentality. Whether we win the opener, drop the next one, we just have to play the next game. We can’t sit there and obsess over a win or loss.”

The Aztecs received preseason Top 25 votes, yet it still isn’t enough to crack the list. They tip off Tuesday night at 7 p.m. inside Viejas Arena.

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