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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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Aztecs Headed to SDSU’s First-Ever Final Four, Beat Creighton 57-56

Darrion Trammell's made free throw with 1.2 seconds left in the game sends SDSU to Houston for a chance at a national title.
By Mario Sevilla

The Aztecs are going to the Final Four.
The firsts keep piling on in this historic run for San Diego State University. The Aztecs, hours after knocking off the NCAA tournament's number one overall seed Alabama, earned the school's first-ever berth in a Final Four following Sunday’s thrilling revenge win over the Creighton Bluejays in Sunday's Elite 8 matchup. 

With a trip to Houston’s NRG Stadium for a chance to play for a national championship within reach for both teams, No. 5 SDSU and No. 6 Creighton traded punches and several score ties for 40 physical minutes. It all came down to a nail-biting finish in the final minute.
With SDSU holding a 56-54 lead, Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman tied up the game after stealing an SDSU inbound pass and converting a layup with 32 seconds remaining in regulation.

After trading timeouts with the game tied 56-56, the Aztecs inbounded the ball to Darrion Trammell who was fouled by Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard on a push shot near the free-throw line with 1.2 seconds left on the clock. Trammell made one of his two free throw attempts to put the Aztecs up 57-56.
"I've been dreaming this my whole life, grateful to be here and thankful to everyone who believed in me," Trammell said. 
A desperation heave by the Bluejays fell short sending SDSU to the program’s first Final Four.
Both SDSU and Creighton struggled offensively shooting 38% and 40% respectively. but it was SDSU’s suffocating defense that stymied the Bluejays shooters down the stretch to keep pace with Creighton who at several points in the game held an eight-point lead over the Aztecs. 
Trammell finished the game with 12 total points for the Aztecs. SDSU's leading scorer, Lamont Butler recorded 18 points and was 2-for-2 from three-point range. 
Sunday's match was the second time in two years the two school's faced eachother. In 2022's NCAA tournament first round, Creighton rallied from a five-point deficit to beat SDSU 72-69. 
SDSU's win also makes the Aztecs the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the Final Four. 
The Aztecs, in their sixth season under coach Brian Dutcher, will face East Region champion No. 9 Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday, April 1 at NRG Stadium in Houston. Tip-off is set for 3:09 p.m. and will be televised on CBS.
San Diego State men’s basketball beat Creighton 57-56 to advance to the Final 4 of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship, Sunday, March 26, 2023. (Photo: Derrick Tuskan/SDSU) 

This is the fourth NCAA appearance for Brian Dutcher as head coach. The two-time Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year, in his sixth season leadinng the program had a likely appearance in the 2019-20 event (San Diego State was 30-2 and projected as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed), which was canceled because of the COVID pandemic.

The Aztecs appearance in the regional final game is its first and the first for a Mountain West program since the inception of the league in the 1999-00 season.

This is SDSU's 10th tournament appearance in the last 13 seasons in which a champion has been crowned. That total does not include the 2019-20 season when SDSU was 30-2 and ranked sixth in the AP poll when the season ended prior to the tournament.

San Diego State owns the third-best record in the nation, 106-22 (82.8 percent), since the start of the 2019-20 campaign. It trails only Gonzaga's 121-12 (91.0 percent), and Houston's 116-22 (84.1 percent), and is ahead of Baylor's 104-24 (81.3 percent) and Kansas' 111-26 (81.0 percent) records in that time frame.

SDSU comes into its Elite 8 game having won 13 of its last 14 (13-1) and 17 of its last 19 (17-2), with its two losses coming on the road at Nevada (14-2 at home) and at Boise State (14-1 at home), both which earned NCAA Tournament bids.

SDSU owns the fifth-best record in the nation since the start of the 2009-10 campaign, 362-115 (.759), and is 163-90 (.644) in road and neutral site contests in that time frame which is the seventh best in the nation.

Of the programs to have advanced to the Elite 8, San Diego State has traveled 4,482.7 miles (First & Second Round and the Sweet 16 & Elite 8), which is more than 1,500 miles further than any other program to reach this point in the event (Miami is second at 2,892.6 miles). Creighton will have traveled the shortest distance going 1,231.9 miles to its first and second round games in Denver, Colo. and now to its two games Louisville, Ky.

Since the start of the 2010-11 season, no program in the state of California has more 30-win seasons than San Diego State's four (2010-11, 2013-14, 2019-20 & 2022-23). UCLA has done it twice (2016-17 & 2022-23) and Saint Mary's once (2016-17).

San Diego State continues to boast an impressive NCAA metric profile. The Aztecs are 14th in the NET, 14th in KenPom, 15th in BPI, 15th in Sagarin Rating, sixth in KPI and 10th in T-Rank.

SDSU head coach Dutcher is in his sixth season as San Diego State's head coach and his 24th season on the Aztec sidelines. In his five-plus seasons as head coach, he has led the Aztecs to five conference titles, a 149-46 (76.4 percent) overall record and has already been named the national coach of the year and twice named Mountain West Conference Coach of the Year. Among first time head coaches who started in the 2017-18 season, Dutcher's 149 wins are the most in the nation.