SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jaedon LeDee scored six of his career-high 27 points in the first three minutes of the second half and No. 17 San Diego State broke open a close game to beat Cal State Fullerton 83-57 in their season opener Monday night.
LeDee also pulled down 10 rebounds for SDSU, runner-up for last season’s national title. Before the game, the school unveiled banners for being an NCAA finalist and for winning the Mountain West regular-season and tournament crowns. The Aztecs reached their first Final Four, beat Florida Atlantic 72-71 on Lamont Butler’s buzzer-beater and then lost to UConn 76-59 in the championship game.
“It’s great. I’m going to look at it every day and then go to work,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “Step onto Steve Fisher Court and look at a Final Four banner. A lot of good stuff’s happened here. And the crowd tonight, come on. The energy in the building was incredible. We feed off that. It’s a fun place to play and a fun place to come watch a game. It was exciting.”
Micah Parrish had five 3-pointers and scored 17 for SDSU, while newcomer Reese Waters added 15.
The Aztecs went on a 15-4 run after the Titans closed to 39-38 on Grayson Carper’s 3 early in the second half. The spurt started when LeDee scored six straight points, including a coast-to-coast dunk and a 3-point play. Elijah Saunders had a steal and dunk, Parrish hit a 3 and Butler sank a jumper to make it 54-42.
The Aztecs say it’s time to move on from last year’s thrilling run through March Madness.
“I was ready to stop talking about last year because I know this year we have to step it up,” Parrish said. “We can’t keep going off last year. It’s a new year, a new us, a new team, new energy. I was ready.”
Said LeDee: “That’s last year’s team. We want to repeat if not do better this year.”
Dominic Brewton scored 13 for the Titans. Max Jones had 11 points and Donovan Oday added 10.
San Diego State lost five key players from last season’s team, including leading scorer Matt Bradley and leading rebounder Nathan Mensah. Aztecs guard Darrion Trammell, the leading returning scorer, has been sidelined with a shoulder injury since early October.
Cal State Fullerton: The Titans fell behind 14-0 in the first four minutes before slowly getting back into the game. They went on a 13-5 run to close the first half and pull to 37-35. Jones had five points during the surge, including a 3-pointer.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are once again the hottest ticket in town. Padres pitcher Joe Musgrove, who grew up in nearby El Cajon, led the student section in the “I believe that we will win” chant before the game.
Cal State Fullerton hosts La Sierra on Saturday night.
SDSU is at former league rival BYU on Friday night, where the Aztecs are 4-30 overall but have split the last two games there.
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