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The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

San Diego State moves on behind Jaedon LeDee’s program record

Aztecs win despite not making field goal in final four minutes
SDSU players head to the locker room after defeating UAB 9-65 in the first round, March 22, 2024, in Spokane, Wash.

Over the final 4:12 minutes of game day, San Diego State did not make a field goal. All eight of their final points came from the free-throw line, keeping their lead with defense and clock management to beat UAB 69-65 to move on to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Spokane. 

“Congratulations to UAB on an outstanding season. They were the ultimate opponent,” head coach Brian Dutcher said. “It went back and forth and we were fortunate to win.” 

Jaedon LeDee and the Aztecs offense started the game off with a bang, shooting 5-of-6 from the field to start and eventually building an 11-point lead while shooting 11-of-16 from the field. 

Jaedon LeDee creates separation with his left hand as he shoots with his right, March 22, in Spokane, Wash.

Then with about 9:30 left in the first half, both offenses began to fall apart. UAB missed nine consecutive field goal attempts and for nearly eight full minutes, San Diego State misses 11 consecutive attempts. 

San Diego State held a 35-29 lead at the half, maintaining their lead but not conceding the lead. 

Half two started strong again for the Aztecs, jumping out to the largest lead of the game early, a 12-point advantage with 16:29 remaining. Still, the Blazers fought through their adversity. They eventually fully caught up and built a three-point lead with 5:31 left in the game. 

Both teams were fighting, and eventually, San Deigo State being a program with recent March Madness success, they utilized their experience to win the game. 

“I told the team after the game that experience means something. I think all that experience we got last year paid off,” Dutcher said. “When they came back, took a lead, we didn’t panic. We stayed focused, we played hard and we found a way to win.” 

The Aztecs’ offense was led by LeDee, who scored a program Tournament record 32 points. He scored 18 of those points in the first half, one point more than the rest of his teammates combined. 

He said his plan he was playing hard and his shots were falling, thanks to his teammates creating opportunities for him with their play. 

“My teammates [were] finding me in the right spots in the right spots at the right times,” Ledee said. 

Earning praise from his coach, Dutcher said that his physicality makes it difficult for the defense to stop him, as they put themsevles at risk of getting into both team and individual foul trouble. 

“Jaedon is just a magnificent player. We can all see that. He challenges the defense every time down the floor,” Dutcher said. 

LeDee’s physicality frustrated the UAB defense all game. UAB forward Yaxel Lendeborg said the team felt like they had to play conservatively despite trying to match the opposition, creating a mental barrier to overcome.  

“I feel like if I was to touch anybody in any type of way, it would be a foul. I tried to match LaDee’s physicality and as soon as I did, boom, foul,” Lendeborg said. “It messes with my head all game.” 

On both sides of the ball, LeDee played disruptor. While his 32 points are impressive enough, he played strong enough defense to provide 20 net points for the Aztecs, 14 more than the next-highest player on the team.  

Both teams were evenly matched. Neither team out-rebounded the other significantly, getting similar production in second-chance opportunities, bench points, shooting and free throw percentage. 

But, SDSU significantly outperformed the Blazers in one aspect of play: capitalizing on forced turnovers. Each team had similar turnover numbers, SDSU committing 13 and UAB 14, but the Aztecs did more with those additional opportunities.

While they scored 17 points off turnovers, UAB scored a measly five points. 

With that, the Blazers season is over. They fought to the end and kept themselves in the game despite going down double-digits on multiple occasions, confident now they will be back to the Tournament next year. 

“I’m proud of my team, proud of the coaches and proud of everybody. I promise you we’ll be back next year,” UAB guard Efrem Johnson said.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.