SDSU vs. UCONN: Three Keys (Plus Two) To An Aztecs NCAA Championship Win

SDSU vs. UCONN: Three Keys (Plus Two) To An Aztecs NCAA Championship Win

NCAA Tournament

SDSU vs. UCONN: Three Keys (Plus Two) To An Aztecs NCAA Championship Win


SDSU vs. UCONN: Three Keys (Plus Two) To An Aztecs NCAA Championship Win

Just one game now separates the Aztecs from 2023 NCAA National Champion status, on college basketball’s biggest stage. 

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The Huskies are dynamic, yet they have vulnerabilities the Aztecs can exploit in pursuit of a national championship.

Houston, TX — The No. 5 Aztecs (32-6) play the No. 4 Huskies (30-8) in the NCAA National Championship Monday night. Tipoff takes place at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX, at 9:20 p.m. EST.

UCONN finds itself in familiar territory as it seeks a fifth national championship.  The Huskies are favored to win the championship by 7.5 points.  Meanwhile, the Aztecs have waged impressive upsets during this tournament, most notably against No. 1 Alabama.

It will take an intensely focused effort to beat UCONN, as the Aztecs look to become the ninth team this season to achieve this goal, even though the stakes have never been higher in Aztecs program history.

Here’s how the Aztecs can wage victory in the NCAA Championship.

Keys to an Aztecs Victory

1. play big and rebound aggressively

UCONN’s Twin Towers consist of scoring leader and junior forward Adama Sanogo (6’9″) who averages 17.2 points on 60.7 percent shooting, and 7.6 boards per game, and super big freshman center Donovan Clingan (7’2″) with 7.0 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

The Twin Towers dominate rebounding, so finding a means to disrupt this is vital. A steady rotation of Nathan Mensah, Jayden LeDee, Aguek Arop and other SDSU bigs playing physically and tenaciously will impact Sanogo’s and Clingan’s ability to dominate the glass. When possible it makes a lot of sense to have two SDSU bigs battling the twin towers.  It’s also notable that Clingan is a poor free-throw shooter, and if fouled, he will often miss at the charity stripe.

Focused attention on winning the battle of the boards is critical to the Aztecs taking control away from the Huskies, while exposing the twin towers to foul trouble as they aggressively fight for the ball.

2. deny sanogo the ABILITY TO BE “OUTSTANDING”

Many prognosticators have predicted Sanogo to be the outstanding player of the game, which is both understandable and very presumptuous. If Sanogo can’t rebound and score effectively, it will not only impact this game’s score- it will rattle the Huskies.

A goal for the Aztecs is keeping Sanogo to under ten in scoring and under five in rebounds. If he cannot produce, the lack of production will  detrimentally affect the Huskies’ ability to wage victory.

3. disrupt uconn’s three-point shooting

UCONN’s top three-point shooters are:

Jordan Hawkins, averaging three 3-pointers per game on around seven attempts (38.6%). He attempts as many three’s as the second and third most prolific perimeter shooters combined.  Shutting him down reduces arc production.

Alex Karaban, averaging two 3-pointers per game on roughly five attempts (40.4%). He’s not as prolific as Hawkins, but he’s a more accurate three point shooter.

Joey Calcaterra, (former USD sharpshooter) averaging more than two 3-pointers per game on five attempts (44.0%). Calcaterra is UCONN’s best perimeter shooter, so he must be guarded very closely. Calcaterra plays half the minutes as Karaban on average. He typically comes out and plays with a hot hand.

Tristen Newton, typically makes one-to-two 3-pointers per game on three attempts (36.7%). Newton is UCONN’s leader in assists as well.

If the Aztecs do what they did to Alabama and Creighton, it will be hard for Connecticut to win.  They can’t allow the same looks that FAU got during the Final Four. This is vital to winning.


Watch for Tristen Newton and Andre Jackson Jr. to repeatedly feed the ball to Sanogo, Clingan and others.  Clutch Aztec steals and alley-oop interceptions will be a big momentum shifter in this game, and simultaneously shake UCONN’s confidence.


A lower scoring UCONN will be easier to defeat. Reducing the frequency of fast breaks, consistently consuming clock time and offensive rebounding could help the Aztecs maintain possession at a higher percentage of the game. Keeping the ball out of the Huskies’ hands as much as possible will build desperation, and provoke reach-in fouls and other fouls.

A combined effort in these areas could help the Aztecs stymie the dominant Huskies in ways that other teams simply did not.

The Aztec Nation wishes Brian Dutcher and the SDSU Aztecs the very best as they battle for a first-ever National Championship victory! Go Aztecs!




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