March Madness strikes again: No. 1 seed Alabama knocked out of men's tournament by San Diego State

Oh, how the mighty fell on Friday.

Alabama, the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA men's tournament, buckled late in a 71-64 loss to fifth-seeded San Diego State and were eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the South Regional.

The Crimson Tide squandered a nine-point lead in the second half as its quest for the first national championship in school history came to an abrupt end.

San Diego State was simply too much playing aggressive defense  that stifled the Crimson Tide's potent offense and hitting several clutch shots in turning its second-half deficit into a lead in the final minutes.

Alabama went up 48-39 on Nick Pringle's dunk with 11:39 left to play. But San Diego State stormed back thanks to a 12-0 run that was started by eight consecutive points by Darrion Trammell. The lead grew as big as nine on Jaedon LeDee's jumper with 3:45 remaining.

Alabama would close within two in the final minute, but San Diego State hit its free throws late to clinch the victory.

Alabama guard Rylan Griffen (3) and San Diego State guard Matt Bradley (20) fight for a loose ball during the first half of their NCAA men's tournament game at KFC YUM! Center.
Alabama guard Rylan Griffen (3) and San Diego State guard Matt Bradley (20) fight for a loose ball during the first half of their NCAA men's tournament game at KFC YUM! Center.

"Just because we've got an experienced team," San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said when asked about how his team turned the tide of the game. "They've been in a million of these situations over their careers. And so they didn't shy away from the moment. They weren't nervous. They just had a quiet confidence about them that they knew they had enough time to play themselves back into the game, and that's what they did."

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Trammell finished with a game-high 21 points.

"I was telling the guys that it's March," Trammell said. "We're going to go on our run, and that was -- I truly believe that, and I just took the opportunities they gave me. I feel like the big was too low in the drop. I took my shot, and, I mean, I just made a play on defense."

San Diego State (30-6) advances to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history and is the first Mountain West team to reach the regional finals. The Aztecs will play the winner of the Princeton-Creighton game Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville.

"We recruit and we say our goal is to win a national championship, so we can't act surprised when we have an opportunity to advance to the Final Four," Dutcher said.

"So that's why we celebrate it, but we're not going to over-celebrate. There's another step to be had. This is not the end of the journey. This is the next step, and we're waiting to take it."

For Alabama, the loss ended a highly successful but turbulent season. Head coach Nate Oats faced intense criticism after for failing to discipline his Brandon Miller, Alabama's star player, even though Miller was linked to murder.

Miller transported the gun that killed Jamea Harris, a 23-year-old mother, on Jan. 15. The gun belonged to then-teammate Darius Miles, who was removed from the team after his arrest. Miles provided the gun to the shooter, Michael Davis, and both Miles and David have been charged with capital murder.

Miller managed just nine points and hit just 3 of his 19 shots from the field. Alabama was 3-for-27 from 3-point range.

"It's not easy to win the regular season, the SEC tournament in the same year and make a Sweet 16 run," Oats said. "It's a great group that really loves each other. I mean, they're going to be close for life, most of them. You know, I love the group, they love each other, and it's just really disappointing that it's ending early. But I think it's one of the most memorable seasons in Alabama history, and they can walk out of here with their heads up.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: San Diego State knocks No. 1 seed Alabama from NCAA Tournament