LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — 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.
With fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas losing during the tournament’s first weekend, Houston — which played Miami on Friday night — was the only top-seeded team remaining.
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.
““We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”-San Diego State’s Darrion Trammell
“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.
Knocking down Power Five
San Diego State has been ranked in the AP Top 25 most of the season and Friday’s win gave the Aztecs 13 wins in 14 games, including the past seven.
The Mountain West champions Aztecs have held their own against Power Five schools, beating Stanford and Ohio State before falling to Arizona and Arkansas during a challenging November slate that helped prepare them for this stage.
Heading into Friday, they’ve averaged nearly 66 points per game during their current streak — which includes a 23-point, second-round rout of No. 13 seed Furman — while holding five of six opponents under 50 points. S
“We’re just playing good basketball, and our opponent has always been ourselves,” Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said Thursday. “Our standards are to play up to whatever our capabilities are, regardless of the opponent. So if we play really good basketball, we’ll have a chance to win the game.”