San Diego State guard Lamont Butler stepped up to the moment Saturday, draining a game-winning shot to send the Aztecs to the national championship. SDSU trailed the entire second half of a Final Four matchup against Florida Atlantic before Butler pulled up for the jumper with one second remaining to make sure they ended with the 72-71 win.
The Aztecs found themselves down as many as 14 points in the second half, making this the third-largest comeback in Final Four history. Butler finished with nine points and three assists in the win, while wing Matt Bradley led the team with 21 points. You can view the shot from Lamont Butler below.
San Diego State began its comeback with a 16-4 run from the 13:53 to 9:05 mark to cut the lead to two. With just over four minutes to play, they tied the game. The teams traded baskets from there, and when FAU’s Alijah Martin scored a layup to make it a 71-68 Owls lead with 47 seconds left, things looked bleak.
However, Aztecs wing Jaedon LeDee responded quickly with a jumper on the other end to cut the deficit down to one again, putting the pressure on Florida Atlantic to score. After a timeout, the Aztecs defense came up with the stop it needed and raced back down the court to set up Butler’s shot.
“We gave up 40 the first half,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “Then we cut the points in the second half down and we had a chance to win. Like I said, our defense keeps us in the game. If we can make a timely shots, we can win it. That’s what happened.”
After FAU shot better than 50% in the first half, the Aztecs defense tightened up to force them to go 8-of-24 (33.3%) in the second. Outside of Martin, who scored 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second, the Owls scored just 12 points over the final 20 minutes.
San Diego State got off to a hot start in the first half to take a 14-5 lead by the 14:40 mark on 11 points and three 3-pointers from Bradley. However, the Owls responded with a 16-3 run after that to snatch the advantage back. From there, things were back-and-forth before FAU used another late run to give itself momentum to end the half.
The Owls saw their lead grow to as many as 10 points before taking a 40-33 advantage into halftime. Aztec forward Keshad Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left in the half to help SDSU avoid entering the locker room down double digits.
Florida Atlantic responded by coming out strong in the second, increasing its advantage to 14 points with 13:53 remaining thanks to seven straight free throws from Martin before the Aztecs rallied back.