LOUISVILLE — Underdog San Diego State kicked No. 1 overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament to advance to the Elite Eight on Friday night in Louisville.
A 71-64 win sends the fifth-seeded Aztecs into the South Region final on Sunday against the winner of Princeton-Creighton in the Kentucky nightcap.
Alabama All-American Brandon Miller was almost entirely erased in the second half, shooting 1 of 10 and finishing with nine points and six turnovers.
San Diego State’s Darrion Trammell had a game-high 21 points, making nine of his 16 attempts from the field and 3 of 5 from 3-point range.
San Diego State’s relentless, stranglehold defense and balanced offensive attack combined to quiet the Crimson Tide, who made 3 of 27 3-point attempts and just 14 of 28 layups, a testament to the Aztecs’ static-cling
Alabama (31-6) was led by Mark Sears’ 16 points and 10 rebounds. Miller (3 of 19), Sears (4 of 11), Jahvon Quinerly (4 of 13) couldn’t catch fire and the Crimson Tide shot 32.4 percent for the game.
Matt Bradley hit two free throws with 45 seconds left that allowed San Diego State (30-6) to exhale slightly after consecutive empty possessions. Bradley’s pair put the Aztecs up by four, and San Diego State got the ball back after a review upheld the out of bounds call on the floor with 34.5 ticks remaining.
San Diego State’s Micah Parrish made 3 of 4 free throws in the closing seconds to seal the win.
Alabama gathered a missed free throw and Sears rebounded a missed 3 all alone for a layup and 66-64 score, pushing closer after the previous possession was decided on a held ball out of a trap in front of the Alabama bench gave possession to the Crimson Tide and Sears converted a three-point play to make it 66-62 San Diego State with 1:08 left.
San Diego State challenged every touch from Miller, who picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game and never had his rhythm.
Bradley drained a jumper from 15 feet for a 66-57 lead with 2:12 left in the game. Bradley scored in the lane with 3:09 left to stake the Aztecs to what was their biggest lead of the game — nine points — but a lob to Alabama 7-footer Charles Bediako, the Crimson Tide’s first fastbreak points of the game, made it 64-57 when San Diego State took a timeout 50 seconds later.
San Diego State owned the pace and won the clash of styles in the first half, choking Alabama’s perimeter shooting and holding Miller to four points on 2-of-9 shooting. The Crimson Tide made 1 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half and trailed 28-23 at the break.
Alabama heated up early in the second half and led 48-39 with 11:40 to play before San Diego recovered to grab the first-ever Elite Eight berth for a Mountain West Conference team.
–Field Level Media