LOUISVILLE, Ky. — — Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.
Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.
The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face either Creighton or Princeton on Sunday in the West Region final as they seek their first Final Four in program history. Roughly 30 minutes later, the tournament’s final remaining No. 1 seed, Houston, lost 89-75 to Miami, leaving March Madness without a single top seed among its final eight teams for the first time since seeding began in 1979. The other top seeds, Purdue and Kansas, lost during the tournament’s opening weekend.
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.
The March Madness run of Alabama (31-6) was 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-Crimson Tide player, Darius Miles.
Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police have said in court documents that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Authorities have said Miller is a cooperating witness, and he did not miss any playing time. Miller has received armed security protection during the tournament.
Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 each for Alabama, which shot 32% overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1%) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second Elite Eight berth in school history.
“Alabama’s a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”
Sears’ layup got Alabama within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.
Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.
San Diego State shot just 38% overall and was outrebounded 52-48, but made clutch shots to rally when Alabama seemed in control behind a faster pace after halftime. A technical foul on Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher also seemed to spark his seasoned team, which maintained its physical play and thwarted every attempt by the Tide to rally.
San Diego State: The Aztecs never seemed fazed by Alabama or Miller. More impressive was their resilience when the game seemed to be slipping away.
Alabama: Other than the second-half run that put them ahead briefly, the Crimson Tide seemed out of sorts in multiple ways. The team’s reliance on 3-pointers showed its desperation.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP–Top25
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