HOUSTON – San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher did not hassle calling the ultimate timeout as a result of he did not have a play he needed to name.
He did not want one.
Lamont Butler had already received the Aztecs a game this season on a buzzer-beater, there was no cause to assume he could not do it once more. Despite the fact that the stakes had been barely greater than securing the Mountain West title.
After trailing for the ultimate 27-plus minutes, Butler gave San Diego State the one lead that mattered, nailing a pull-up jumper because it beat Florida Atlantic 72-71 within the Remaining 4 on Saturday night time .
“(Coach) told me to go down, get something on the rim,” Butler stated. “He did a good job of cutting me off. Once I looked up, with two seconds left, I knew I had to make a shot.
“I discovered a shot I am comfy with, a pull-up went in. I am glad it went in.”
So is anyone connected to San Diego State. Nearly 50 years after making their first NCAA men’s tournament appearance, the fifth-seeded Aztecs will be in the Monday night championship game against Miami or UConn for the first time.
It was the second consecutive game in which San Diego State won by one point, and the third in which the Aztecs had to rally in the second half.
“We had been in that place many instances all year long,” said Matt Bradley, who found his shooting stroke in time to score 21 points. “We have all the time been knocked down. However the biggest factor we all the time do is stand up and preserve preventing.”
The Owls started the tournament with a last-second shot against Memphis, and were similarly eliminated from the tournament.
San Diego State erased a 14-point, second-half deficit with a 23–9 run, tying it on a second-chance jumper by Aguek Arop with 4:24 to play. But Giancarlo Rosado answered with a turnaround jumper, and it looked like FAU was going to be able to hold off the Aztecs when Alijah Martin scored on a driving layup with 45 seconds to play.
Jaedon LeDee scored on a pullup jumper to cut the Owls’ lead to 71–70 with 36 seconds left. The teams exchanged timeouts, and FAU called one more before Jonelle Davis missed a driving layup with nine seconds left.
Nathan Mensah grabbed the rebound, and everyone in the arena assumed Dutcher would call a timeout. But Dutcher had already told San Diego State players in the past to go downhill.
“I believed we would get the ball someplace round seven seconds in if we had been fortunate,” Dutcher said. “I had three massive gamers within the game. I instructed them, ‘You three guys run to the rim, Lamont, you go to the basket and let’s examine what occurs.’ ,
The Aztecs confronted nearly the identical state of affairs in New Mexico in late February. There have been solely 5 seconds left on the clock, and Butler hit a 3 to win the game 73–71.
Dutcher joked, “I’ll stop telling him what to do and just say, ‘Lamont, you’ve got the ball and I’ll be with him whatever happens. ‘”
Mensah threw the ball to Butler, who needed to drive to the basket, however was blocked by FAU’s Nick Boyd and Brian Greenlee. As an alternative, he took a step again and pulled up, leaving Boyd’s hand flying in his face with 0.7 seconds left.
“I didn’t really have a lot of angles,” Butler stated. “Like I said, I’ve got a shot I’m comfortable with, the one-dribble pull-up. I just tried to sell, I was going to the rim, and I just got up and hit the shot.”
Rosado stated, “That was great defense by Nick Boyd. You can’t play better defense than that. (Butler) just made a tough shot. All respect to him.”
As had occurred in Albuquerque, Butler’s shot went in.
“A little shocked. I didn’t really know how big it was,” stated Butler, who was surprised as Arope lifted him into the air and the remainder of the Aztecs surrounded him. “We’re going for the national championship; it’s something that not a lot of people do.
“I am glad it went in,” he said. “It felt good when it left my fingers.”
Sometimes, plans — or in the case of San Diego State, games — are overrated. Just rip it off and see where it takes you.
In this case, it is taking the Aztecs to the national title game.
Observe USA TODAY sports activities columnist Nancy Armour on Twitter @nrarmour.