Oh, how the mighty fell on Friday.
Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA men’s tournament, buckled late in a 71-64 loss to fifth-seeded San Diego State and were eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the South Regional.
The Crimson Tide squandered a nine-point lead in the second half as its quest for the first national championship in school history came to an abrupt end.
San Diego State was simply too much playing aggressive defense that stifled the Crimson Tide’s potent offense and hitting several clutch shots in turning its second-half deficit into a lead in the final minutes.
Alabama went up 48-39 on Nick Pringle’s dunk with 11:39 left to play. But San Diego State stormed back thanks to a 12-0 run that was started by eight consecutive points by Darrion Trammell. The lead grew to nine on Jaedon LeDee’s jumper with 3:45 remaining.
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Alabama would close within two in the final minute, but San Diego State hit its free throws late to clinch the victory.
When asked how they won, San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said, “Just with gutty defense and rebounding.”
“We played together, we played the right way and we came out with a win.”
Trammell finished with a game-high 21 points.
“We knew it was going to be hard, but it was a dogfight,” he said. “Very physical.’’
San Diego State (30-6) advances to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history and is the first Mountain West team to reach the regional finals. The Aztecs will play the winner of the Princeton-Creighton game Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.
For Alabama, the loss ended a highly successful but turbulent season. Head coach Nate Oats faced intense criticism after for failing to discipline his Brandon Miller, Alabama’s star player, even though Miller was linked to murder.
Miller transported the gun that killed Jamea Harris, a 23-year-old mother, on Jan. 15. The gun belonged to then-teammate Darius Miles, who was removed from the team after his arrest. Miles provided the gun to the shooter, Michael Davis, and both Miles and David have been charged with capital murder.
Miller managed just nine points and hit just 3 of his 19 shots from the field. Alabama was 3-for-27 from 3-point range.