HOUSTON (AP) — Lamont Butler hit a jump shot at the buzzer, sending San Diego State to its first national championship game with a 72-71 win over fellow mid-major Florida Atlantic in the Final Four on Saturday night.
With FAU leading by three, San Diego State’s Jaedon LeDee hit a short jumper to cut it to 71-70.
After FAU’s Johnell Davis missed a contested layup, the Aztecs didn’t call timeout and got the ball to Butler.
He worked the clock down before hitting the shot that sent the Aztecs racing out onto the floor.
San Diego State will face UConn or Miami in Monday’s championship game.
San Diego State became a mid-major power under Steve Fisher, earning six straight NCAA Tournament appearances from 2009-15.
His longtime assistant, Brian Dutcher, has pushed the Aztecs to unprecedented heights for the program.
San Diego State was likely headed toward a No. 1 seed before the pandemic canceled the 2020 NCAA Tournament and has been a physical menace all season.
The defensive-minded Aztecs may not play a pretty game, but they make teams play their game, a method that has taken them to the Mountain West Conference’s first trip to the Final Four and now a chance for a first NCAA championship.
All that’s left is reaching the summit.
“We believed if we did what we were supposed to do, we could make a Final Four, we could win a national championship,” Dutcher said before Saturday’s game.
The last time two mid-majors played in the Final Four was 2011, when Butler beat VCU in, you guessed it, Houston.