San Diego State ousts top-seeded Alabama from March Madness

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher insisted throughout the NCAA Tournament that if his team is playing to its strengths, no matter what the opponent.

The Aztecs certainly played their way against the March Madness top seed.

Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominating defensive performance to eliminate Alabama from the tournament, bottling All-America rookie Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.

Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose stellar season was marred by off-court complications, was limited to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face sixth-seeded Creighton on Sunday in the southern region final. Each program seeks its first Final Four appearance.

About 30 minutes after Alabama fell, the tournament’s last remaining No. 1 seed Houston lost 89-75 to Miami, leaving March Madness without a single seed among its last eight teams for the first times since the rankings began in 1979. The other top seeds, Purdue and Kansas, lost in the tournament’s opening weekend.

“It’s just parity,” Dutcher said. ” It is what it is. There is not much difference between the best team in the country and the worst team in the country. You see it on this scene.

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and controlling the game from there. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers.

Trammell scored the first eight points of SDSU’s big run. He made a 3-pointer, stole the ball from Miller and converted a layup, then buried 3 more.

“We’re going to keep our run,” Trammell said, “and I just took the opportunities they gave me. I took my shot, and I just made a play on defense. From there, our team was in. That’s when the momentum changed.

Just like the Crimson Tide season.

Alabama’s March Madness race (31-6) has been clouded by its response to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa, which led to capital murder charges against a then player from Crimson Tide, Darius Miles.

Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police said in court papers that Miles texted Miller to bring her his gun. Authorities said Miller was a cooperating witness and did not miss any playing time. Miller received armed security protection during the tournament.

Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 apiece for Alabama, which shot 32 percent overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1 percent) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second-place Elite Eight in school history.

“We came into this match prepared as much as possible,” Miller said. “I think our shooting could have been better. Our shot picks could have been better, but it’s just that San Diego is a great bunch of guys. They are veterinarians, so they have a lot of experience. I feel like they came out and played hard.

San Diego State players knew they had to impose their will on Alabama’s deep and gifted roster.

“Alabama is a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be tough. It was a dogfight. Very physical.

Sears’ layup got Alabama down 66-64 with 46 seconds left, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.

After the final beep, the players and coaches of the Aztecs rushed onto the pitch and embraced each other in joyous celebration.

Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.

San Diego State shot just 38% overall and was passed 52-48, but made clutch shots to rally when Alabama appeared to be in control behind a faster pace after the half. time. A technical foul on Dutcher also seemed to trigger his seasoned side, who maintained their physical game and thwarted any attempts to rally the Tide.


Mensah and Johnson had outright rejections with San Diego State ahead 53-50.

Both blocks came on Quinerly’s layup attempts. Mensah crushed the first and Johnson rejected a later attempt seconds later. Trammell followed with a jumping back for a five-point pad.


San Diego State: The Aztecs never seemed fazed by Alabama or Miller. More impressive was their resilience when the game seemed to slip away.

Alabama: Other than the second-half run that briefly put them ahead, the Crimson Tide looked uncomfortable in a number of ways. The team’s reliance on 3-pointers showed its desperation.


AP March Madness coverage: and support: and -25-college-basketball-poll and


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