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By Liz Alper

Photo courtesy

December 23, 2016 (Honolulu) - After a win in yesterday's quarterfinals of the Diamond Head Classic with a win over Southern Miss, SDSU men's basketball took on Tulsa today in the semifinals.

Unlike the hot start they got off to yesterday, the Aztecs found themselves down quickly, only tallying three points in the first three minutes and trailing 8-3.  But thanks to two threes from sophomore guard Jeremy Hemsley, the Aztecs rallied and jumped out to a 22-17 lead with 11 and a half minutes left.  The Golden Hurricane came like just that:  a hurricane.  The Aztecs had a much tougher time attacking the rim and shooting from the perimeter against the Tulsa defense.  To top it all off, the Aztecs ran into foul trouble early, with seniors Dakarai Allen and Matt Shrigley quickly racking up fouls in the first 13 minutes, Allen earning three.  But with six minutes left, the Aztecs turned it around, going on a 9-2 run to get their lead to 31-25.  But the Aztecs seemed to be on a seesaw; they were great offensively and defensively for a few possessions, then after a while, the Golden Hurricane struck back with a crucial threes from two freshman; guard Lawson Korita and forward Junior Etou that brought Tulsa to within one, 38-37.  Senior guard Trey Kell wasn't scared. At the buzzer, he caught a nice pass from sophomore guard Zylan Cheatham and shot from beyond the arc.  It was a lucky strike and the Aztecs went to the locker room with a huge momentum boost, up 41-37.

In the second half, the pace of the game increased even more, if that was even possible.  The teams traded baskets, rebounds and steals until costly mistakes by SDSU led to Tulsa finally knotting the game at 45 with 16 minutes left.  With 10 and a half minutes left, the Aztecs found their groove again with two big threes from Shrigley and Hemsley to propel SDSU to a 58-52 lead.  SDSU proceeded to score 18 points all on three pointers from Kell, Shrigley and Hemsley and all of a sudden, the close game was no more; the Aztecs were up 70-54.  All of this offense came without Malik Pope.  SDSU kept up the pressure until the final buzzer and the second half performance paid off as the Aztecs win the semifinal of the Diamond Head Classic 82-63.  Hemsley led the way for the Aztecs with 20 points, four rebounds, two assists, three steals and was 5/7 from beyond the arc.

The Aztecs will play in the finals on Christmas Day against the University of San Francisco. Tipoff is set for 5:00 p.m. and you can watch the game on ESPN2.

Final box

Postgame notes

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