There were 13 Dutchers headed for Houston from Minnesota and a couple of other spots to watch a basketball team coached by their son, brother, brother-in-law and uncle.

That would be Brian Dutcher, the coach at San Diego State, one of the surprise entrees in a very strange men's Final Four in NRG Stadium.

Father Jim and sister Barb had a flight problem from the Twin Cities on Friday. They were booked on a United flight early Saturday morning and would arrive in plenty of time for the late afternoon tipoff between the Aztecs and upstart Florida Atlantic in the first national semifinal.

Then it started snowing in the Twin Cities on Friday night. "We got a call about 10 or so last night saying that flight was cancelled," Jim Dutcher said. "So, the other 11 in our group, plus Brian's part of the family, were in the arena and Barb and I watched it together here in Minnesota.

They watched this:

Aztecs up early by nine. Aztecs down 14 in the second half. Aztecs start pounding boards and get back in game. Aztecs miss a few free throws and Florida Atlantic goes up by three in final minute. Aztecs cut it to one with 38 seconds left. Brian Dutcher chooses not to foul as FAU runs down the clock.

"That's always the question: Do you foul or count on making the stop?" Jim Dutcher said. "If you go that second route, you're going to have to make a last-second shot."

What would have Jim Dutcher done back in the day as a head coach, including from 1975 to 1986 with the Gophers?

"With a team like Brian's, I think I would've done the same," he said. "The way his team plays defense, the odds are they will make the stop."

Which they did, and then charged down court, and with everyone from Aztecville shouting, "Shoot, shoot," Lamont Butler cleared himself from the end line with a move to his left and drained a 17-footer to give the Aztecs an insane 72-71 victory.

"I had given Barb my credit card and said, "Get on us on a flight to Houston,' " Jim said. "If we wanted to get there on Sunday, we'd have to make stops all over. Barb found us a direct flight on Monday.

"We're confident we'll be there this time."

Jim will turn 90 this month. He has enough technological wizards around him to aid in watching Brian's game throughout the season.

There have been the proverbial cliffhangers all season — and one being on Feb. 26 in Albuquerque, when Butler hit a three-pointer inside the final second to beat Richard Pitino's New Mexico team 73-71.

So, the score was exactly the same — down 71-70 — as it would be Saturday, when Butler hit the buzzer beater that will live in Final Four lore.

What was Jim Dutcher's outlook as the Aztecs were falling behind by 14 on Saturday?

"Remember what I said when we talked last week — this team can go through a stretch where no one can make a shot, and then they'll go on a 14-0 run with great defense," Dutcher said. "And they did that again today."

Dutcher paused in the phone conversation and then said:

"They won both the Mountain West Conference title and then the tournament, and after they won in the first round, Brian's first win as the head coach in the NCAA, we all said, 'No matter what happens, it's been a great year.'

"When they got to the Sweet 16, we said, 'No matter what happens, it's been a great year.' Regional final … 'No matter what happens.' And today, in the national semifinals, same thing … 'No matter what happens.'

"I'm sure we're going to be 10-point underdogs Monday night if it turns out to be UConn, the way it has been playing, and we'll be saying the same thing before the game: 'No matter what happens, it's been a great year.'

"These players, though. This isn't Brian's best team as far as talent, but there's something about this group of players. You can't convince them they're out of a game."