March Madness: San Diego State stifles Alabama, Brandon Miller to stun NCAA tournament's No. 1 seed in Sweet 16

No. 1 seed Alabama is done.

San Diego State's defense swarmed the Crimson Tide on Friday while an offensive outburst from senior guard Darrion Trammell sealed the deal as the Aztecs upended the Crimson Tide, 71-64, in the Sweet 16 round of the men's NCAA tournament.

The Aztecs' win eliminates the tournament's No. 1 overall seed and likely ends the collegiate career of Alabama star Brandon Miller. Alabama joined Houston in losing Friday, ensuring that no No. 1 seeds will advance to the Elite Eight for the first time in NCAA tournament history.

The Aztecs set the tone from the opening tip. Twelve minutes into the game, Alabama had as many turnovers (four) as it did made field goals. Miller started 0-for-4 from the field and briefly left the game at the 14:49 mark of the first half after picking up his second foul. He finished with nine points while shooting 3-of-19 from the field.

Crimson Tide head coach Nate Oats didn't keep his star on the bench long. He subbed him back in with 10:49 remaining and explained the decision to CBS.

"I’m putting him in right now," Oats said. "Screw it. We’ve got to win or go home. We’re playing him."

The decision paid off in the short term. Miller hit his next two field goals, then delivered a driving assist to center Charles Bediako to give the Tide a 19-16 lead.

SDSU responded with a 5-0 run, and the Aztecs' defense continued to fluster an offense that averaged 82.3 points per game entering the Sweet 16. SDSU defenders repeatedly clogged passing lanes and challenged ball handlers. The Atzecs forced seven turnovers while taking a 28-23 lead into halftime.

Mar 24, 2023; Louisville, KY, USA; San Diego State Aztecs forward Jaedon LeDee (13) and forward Keshad Johnson (0) celebrate after a play during the second half of the NCAA tournament round of sixteen against the Alabama Crimson Tide at KFC YUM! Center. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Big swings in second half

Alabama came out energized in the second half. It looked repeatedly inside to Bediako, who leaned on his 7-foot frame to connect on 3 of 4 field goals, including a dunk in traffic as Alabama opened the second half with a 13-4 run.

The Tide opened their lead to 48-39 before Trammell scored eight straight points to cut the Aztecs' deficit to 48-47. A Nathan Mensah free throw tied the game at 48 before an Adam Seiko 3-pointer capped a 12-0 run to give San Diego State a 51-48 lead

The Aztecs rode the momentum to a 64-55 lead with 3:08 remaining. Alabama clawed back to cut the deficit to 66-64, but it never regained the lead. In the end, SDSU's defense was too much.

Elite Aztecs defense gets the job done

The Aztecs entered Thursday ranked No. 6 in the nation in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. The Crimson Tide learned why Friday. Alabama shot 32.4% from the field while connecting on 3 of 27 (11.1%) 3-point attempts. Miller shot 1 of 10 from distance. The Aztecs secured nine steals, blocked eight shots and forced 14 turnovers.

Mensah, the Mountain West defensive player of the year, repeatedly sent back Alabama offerings while tallying five blocks. He recorded two on a single key second-half possession to maintain a 53-50 SDSU lead.

The Aztecs did this all against an Alabama offense that ranked 18th in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency.

Trammell, meanwhile, got the job done on offense. He added 13 points to his personal 8-0 second-half mini run to lead all scorers with 21. He made 9 of 16 shots from the field, including a 3-of-5 effort from 3-point distance.

He confirmed postgame that SDSU wasn't surprised to pick up the win.

"We feel like we can beat any team in the country," Trammell told CBS after the game. "We work hard, and we feel like we have the DNA of a winning team that goes far in March. We have experience. We have grit. This is what we're supposed to do.

The win ends Alabama's controversial national championship bid. The Crimson Tide secured the tournament's No. 1 overall seed thanks largely to Miller, a projected top-three NBA Draft pick who earned SEC Player of the Year honors. Police say that Miller delivered a gun to the scene of a fatal shooting in January involving ex-teammate Darius Miles. Miles now faces a capital murder charge. Miller does not face charges, and he continued to play as Alabama sought its first national title. He'll likely enter the NBA Draft this summer.

San Diego State instead will advance to the South regional final for its first Elite Eight appearance. It will face Creighton on Sunday with a trip to the Final Four at stake.