Jaedon LeDee powers San Diego State past UAB

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 23 Mar, 2024 at 05:05 AM

Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Jaedon LeDee recorded 32 points and eight rebounds to lead San Diego State to a 69-65 victory over UAB in East Region first-round play Friday at Spokane, Wash.

Lamont Butler added 15 points and four steals for the fifth-seeded Aztecs (25-10), who are looking for another deep run after losing to UConn in last season's NCAA title game.

Efrem "Butta" Johnson made five 3-pointers and scored 19 points for the 12th-seeded Blazers (23-12). However, Johnson missed a tying 3-point attempt with eight seconds remaining before Reese Waters split two free throws with 3.5 seconds left to seal it for San Diego State.

Eric Gaines added 14 points and Yaxel Lendeborg had 11 points and seven rebounds before fouling out for UAB.

The Aztecs face No. 13 Yale in a second-round game Sunday.

LeDee was a role player on San Diego State's national runner-up squad last season before breaking out and earning multiple All-American honors this season.

"If I didn't give him the ball, then I wouldn't be a very good coach," Aztecs coach Brian Dutcher said. "So sometimes, coaching is easier than it looks."

San Diego State shot 43.6 percent from the field, including 5 of 18 from 3-point range. The Aztecs held a 17-5 edge in points off turnovers.

UAB made 37.7 percent of its attempts and was 7 of 20 from behind the arc.

"We're kind of a scrappy group," Blazers coach Andy Kennedy said. "We're not as physically strong or as tough as San Diego State, but our mantra is somewhat similar, in that we want to continue to be relentless in everything that we do.

"I thought we lost the physical battle today, bodies on bodies."

Lendeborg was feeling the pain after the season-ending setback.

"Hopefully, next year we'll be back in the same position and I can avoid that foul trouble and we can get out with a win," he said.

The Aztecs trailed by three with 6:02 to play before receiving two baskets from LeDee and one from Butler to take a 61-58 edge with 4:12 remaining.

UAB battled back to tie it at 62 on a layup by Gaines with 2:27 left.

San Diego State later led by three before Lendeborg made two free throws to pull the Blazers within 66-65 with 43.4 seconds to play. LeDee made two free throws with 20.1 seconds left to again make the margin three before the final sequence.

LeDee credited Butler as the key player in the Aztecs' victory.

"That's what he does. (Mountain West) Defensive Player of the Year," LeDee said. "He's in the gaps, he's in your face all game, I love it. He had a great game today."

The Blazers trailed by five early in the second half before the Aztecs scored seven consecutive points. Butler's steal led to his dunk to make it 44-32 with 16:29 left in the game.

UAB ran off eight straight points to move within four before Miles Bird hit a 3-pointer and Elijah Saunders added a hoop as the Aztecs held a 49-40 advantage with 12:29 remaining.

The Blazers responded with an 11-0 burst that included eight points from Johnson. His jumper with 9:54 left ended the run and gave UAB its first lead of the game at 51-49.

LeDee scored 18 points to guide the Aztecs to a 35-29 halftime lead. UAB committed 11 of its 14 turnovers in the half.

--Field Level Media