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San Diego State rolls past Yale 85-57 and sets up title game rematch with UConn in Sweet 16

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Another big game from Jaedon LeDee and some sizzling outside shooting landed San Diego State a matchup it has waited a year to get.

After getting thumped in the national title game last April, the Aztecs earned another shot at defending champion UConn.

“We’re heading on the road to play a road game against UConn in Boston and I’ve got a group that I think will be up for the task,” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said.

LeDee had 26 points and nine rebounds, Darrion Trammell added 18 points and fifth-seeded San Diego State used a fast start to overwhelm 13th-seeded Yale, rolling to an 85-57 win in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night.

The Aztecs scored the first 10 points of the game, led by 24 at halftime and removed any chance of another potential March Madness, bracket-busting upset.

“I think we just got the hardest game out of the way. First game is definitely always the hardest,” Trammell said. “Obviously, we go out there and play confident, but I feel like getting that first one under our belt, we come out much more loose and much more confident.”

San Diego State (26-10) earned a rematch with the No. 1 seed in the tournament in what will be a heavily partisan crowd in Boston. The Huskies beat the Aztecs 76-59 last April in Houston, denying San Diego State a chance at its first title.

The Aztecs will be playing in the Sweet 16 in consecutive years for the first time in school history.

“This is the time of year to be fearless and don’t worry about making a mistake. Play your best,” Dutcher said. “And we have experience in the tournament and I think some of that experience showed over the last two games.”

LeDee was again the star for the Aztecs after he scored 32 points in the first-round win over UAB. He made 9 of 12 shots, including a pair of 3s, and in two tournament games is 20-for-30 shooting.

But some of the outside shooting that was absent in the tourney opener returned and San Diego State hit a season-high 13 3-pointers. Trammell had just four points and took four shots against UAB, but hit four 3s against Yale.

“They’re not known to be a great 3-point shooting team, but they saw me coming and they figured they would make them all today,” Yale coach James Jones joked.

Bez Mbeng led Yale with 12 points and Matt Knowling added 11. But even with borrowing the University of Idaho band for a second time, there was no magical late comeback after the Bulldogs (23-10) rallied from down 10 in the final 7½ minutes to top No. 4 seed Auburn in the opener.

For the second straight year, San Diego State didn’t allow a No. 13 seed seeking a landmark second-round upset the chance to breathe. The Aztecs suffocated Furman last year after the Paladins knocked off Virginia in the first round.

They did the same to Yale.

John Poulakidas, the star of Yale’s upset win over Auburn, wasn’t able to match the same level of shot-making he displayed on the way to 28 points in the first round. Poulakidas missed all five shots in the first half and was scoreless at the break. He finally scored early in the second half, but finished with only nine points.

“It hurts a lot right now. I think we had big expectations and got a little greedy. We wanted more, we knew we could get more,” Knowling said. “But I’m really proud of our guys and the team and what we were able to accomplish this year.”

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While the teams are different, the Aztecs will need to start better against UConn this time than they did in the title game. San Diego State trailed by 16 in the first half of that game and could only close within five points in the second half before UConn pulled away late.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness