San Diego State downs Yale to advance to Sweet 16, 85-57

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
A dominant effort from start to finish for the Aztecs helped them end the Cinderella story for the Bulldogs.

With a trip to the Sweet 16 on the line, San Diego State and Yale went head-to-head. After a dangerously close first-round victory for the Aztecs over UAB, they came out of the gates against the Bulldogs with intensity. They scored the first 10 points of the game and quickly made it clear that there would be no messing around. By half, they had erupted for a 24-point lead that would take them into the break with all of the momentum on their side.

While the second half was a better one for Yale, they were still outscored 40-36 in the final 20 minutes and their season came to a heartbreaking end. As for the Aztecs, this is now the second straight year in which they have taken out a 13-seed in the second round that many around the nation were keeping a close eye on as a potential Cinderella story. After handling Furman last year, they did it again in a battle against Yale to get back to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive season.

Here are three takeaways from the game:

Jaedon LeDee leads the charge once again

For the second straight round, Jaedon LeDee found himself locked in. The senior delivered 17 first-half points as the Aztecs opened up a sizeable lead and quickly took control of the game. He was incredibly efficient from the field, shooting 9-12 and going 2-2 from beyond the arch.

He finished the contest with 26 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 assist as he dominated the boards all night long. LeDee’s performance through the first 2 rounds of the tournament has been amongst the most impressive of any player in the dance so far. He’s shooting 20-30 through the opening pair of games and will look to keep it rolling for the Aztecs in the Sweet 16. In a rematch against last year’s champions, he will need to give his team everything that he has.

The Aztecs bounce back from beyond the arch

While San Diego State managed to come away with a tight win over UAB, their lack of three-point shooting success in the game did not make it easy. They shot just 27.8% from distance against the Blazers, leaving the pressure to get the job done inside the paint. It was a different story against Yale, however, and the ball was flying with ease. The Aztecs shot 13-27 from three-point land, securing them a much-improved mark of 48.1%. Jaedon LeDee, Darrion Trammell, and Lamont Butler combined to shoot 8-11 from range as they each came up with some big shots in the game. Yale head coach James Jones could do nothing but laugh as he watched the Aztecs light it up from distance for 40 straight minutes. “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.” It was a season-high 13 3-pointers in the contest for San Diego State, and it came on the biggest possible stage so far. If the Aztecs can keep their shooting magic alive as they battle UConn, they will certainly be able to push the Huskies to their limit and potentially come away with some sweet revenge.

Darrion Trammell pours in 18 huge points

Against UAB, it was Lamont Butler who stepped up and delivered the big performance alongside Jaedon LeDee. This time around, Darrion Trammell stepped up to fill the stat sheet and help lift the Aztecs to a dominant win. The senior guard came through with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and a block. He was especially lethal from deep, draining 4 of his 7 shots from beyond the arch.

He even led the team in game time with nearly 30 minutes on the court. Trammell left it all out there for his teammates as he did not want to see his senior season come to a disappointing end. After the game, he explained that getting the rust knocked off in the first round was huge for his team’s confidence.

Trammell and the rest of the squad will now gear up for their most significant game since last year in the National Championship. As destiny will have it, they square off against UConn in a Sweet 16 matchup that will give them the chance to break the hearts of the 1-seeded Huskies and get one step closer to taking care of unfinished business. The Aztecs will have a few much-needed days off to prepare for a Connecticut squad that many around the nation have picked to become the first repeat champions since the Florida Gators did it back in 2006 and 2007. The battle is set to take place on Thursday afternoon at the TD Garden in Boston. It will most definitely be the biggest challenge yet with the Huskies presumably holding a strong crowd advantage all the way on the east coast. One thing is certain, however: the Aztecs will make sure that they are fully prepared, and they definitely have what it takes to put together an epic revenge game over the team that sent them home in last year’s championship. With the talent and motivation to punch their ticket to the Elite 8, it will be a treat to see how everything plays out.

The game is scheduled to tip off at 4:39 p.m. PT.