SAN DIEGO — Brian Dutcher was pretty low-key after his first game — and win — as a head coach.

Maybe because it was such an easy win, 91-52 against outmanned San Diego Christian, an NAIA team that doesn’t have its own gym.

Or maybe it was because he’s simply seen a lot of basketball, mostly spent at Steve Fisher’s side.

“My wife sent me a really nice text and told me how proud she was of me,” said Dutcher, who became head coach after Fisher retired in April. “So I said, ‘Wow, this must be a really big day. I’m the head coach!’ That’s when I kind of realized, it’s probably a big deal for our family.

“If I was taking over at 29, I’d probably have a few more butterflies. But at 58 I’ve seen a lot of basketball. The beauty of this is coach Fisher gave me a lot of responsibility when I was here. So a lot of things I’m doing, I did for him. Other than the final say in timeouts, my job is a lot like it was before I was a head coach.”

Malik Pope scored 20 points for SDSU, on everything from a skyhook to an alley-oop slam dunk.

For the last six seasons, Dutcher had the designation of associate head coach/head coach in waiting.

Fisher watched the season opener from the second row. Fisher’s son, Mark, remains on the SDSU staff.

Dutcher jokingly apologized for the Aztecs not scoring 98 points, which they did in beating No. 10 Southern California in a closed scrimmage and in an exhibition victory against UC San Diego.

“I know I’m only 1-0 but I’m trying to get the closed-door scrimmage and exhibition game on my record,” Dutcher joked. “At 58 years old I can use all the wins I can get. I’ve only got one so far. Hopefully there will be many more to come.”

Said guard Jeremy Hemsley, who scored 10 points: “He did good, man. I’m proud of him. We talked about it before the game. He’s been waiting waited so long. I’m not sure I could wait that long to be a head coach but he was rewarded for his patience.”

Pope banked in a jumper for the game’s first points and SDSU jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first 1:54 before San Diego Christian (1-4), an NAIA team from suburban Santee, called a time out. SDSU took a 14-0 lead before the Hawks scored their first points, on a layup by Hayden Fredrick.

Derek Novsek led San Diego Christian with 13 and Fredrick had 10.

“I think they’re a lot better than they’re been here in the last couple of years,” San Diego Christian coach Edgar Mendez said about the Aztecs. “It’s going to be a fun year for them.

“We did some things I thought well but their length, really for our level, is just too hard to overcome. They can score it a little bit better this year. That’s a good job by them in recruiting.”

BIG PICTURE

San Diego Christian: The Hawks have played at SDSU for eight straight seasons, losing each time. While it’s usually a wipeout, it gives the Hawks a chance to play in a big-time atmosphere. The Hawks play most of their home games at a nearby junior college, and even have one this season at a large rec center.

San Diego State: Returning players Trey Kell and Pope were joined in the starting lineup by senior center Kameron Rooks, a graduate transfer from California, and junior guard Devin Watson, a transfer from San Francisco. Dutcher took over a program that failed to make a postseason tournament or win 20 games for the first time in 12 seasons.

UP NEXT

San Diego Christian plays at Biola on Thursday night.

San Diego State plays at Arizona State on Tuesday night to complete a home-and-home series. ASU beat SDSU 74-63 last year.