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San Diego State Aztecs beat Furman, advance to Sweet 16 in NCAA March Madness tournament

SDSU took a commanding 39-25 lead at halftime and never let up with their second win in this year’s tournament.
Credit: AP
San Diego State guard Matt Bradley (20) grabs a rebound away from Furman forward Garrett Hien (13), guard Mike Bothwell (3) and guard Marcus Foster (5) during the first half of a second-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament Saturday, March 18, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

ORLANDO, Fla. — Survive and advance. That was the motto for every team in March and one that the Aztecs took into their second game on Saturday against the Furman Paladins. After a bit of a slow start, the Aztecs finished the first half with a strong run, taking a commanding 39-25 lead at halftime. The second half was more ofthe same as SDSU cruised to a 75-52 win in their second game in 3 days.

The Aztecs were 5.5 point favorites over the Paladins who were coming off a thrilling upset over number four ranked University of Virginia. The Paladins hit a three-point shot with just two seconds left in the game to ultimately send UVA to an early March exit once again.

According to the Associated Press, Darrion Trammell had 13 points, Lamont Butler added 12 and leading scorer Matt Bradley finished with 10 for San Diego State (29-6), which is heading to its first Sweet 16 since 2004. The Aztecs have won 11 of their past 13 games and will play either Alabama or Maryland next week in the South Region semifinals in Louisville, Kentucky.

San Diego State is the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the Sweet 16 since Nevada in 2018. It'll be the third regional semifinal appearance for the Aztecs and the seventh for the Mountain West overall.

Two days after shrugging off cold shooting and overcoming a 12-point, second-half deficit to shock No. 4 seed Virginia 68-67 on JP Pegues' bracket-busting 3-pointer, Furman was outmuscled and gradually worn down by the much more physical Aztecs.

Southern Conference player and the year Jalen Slawson picked up his fourth foul with 16:27 remaining and fouled out shortly after returning midway through the second half. The super senior stomped the floor in protest, drawing a technical foul that gave San Diego State a pair of free throws that put the Aztecs up 60-37.

Mike Bothwell led the 13th-seeded Paladins (28-8) with 15 points. Alex Williams had 11 and Pegues finished with 11 as Furman shot 32%, including 6 of 26 from 3-point range.

Furman earned its first tournament berth since 1980 by beating Chattanooga for the Southern Conference title, capping a season-long quest to redeem itself after losing the league’s automatic berth to the Mocs in overtime on a 35-foot buzzer-beater last year.

The Aztecs advanced to the second-round game after knocking off a Charleston team that kept the game close until the end. The Aztecs win was their first one in the Big Dance since 2015 — ending a four-game losing streak — and snapped an 11-game skid for the Mountain West Conference.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego State Aztecs prepare for Charleston Cougars in opening round of March Madness 

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