SAN DIEGO — If Monday night’s NCAA basketball championship game comes down to a last-second shot opportunity for the San Diego State University Aztecs, all eyes will surely be on Lamont Butler.
Butler wasn’t afraid of the moment in Saturday’s Final Four matchup against Florida Atlantic University, when the Aztecs were down by one with about 10 seconds left on the clock.
FAU had an opportunity to extend the lead on their last possession, but fell short after a missed layup. That’s when SDSU center Aguek Arop grabbed the rebound and passed the ball forward to Butler for him to hold for the last shot.
Butler, of Moreno Valley in Riverside County, dribbled down the court and made his way toward the right corner sideline where he was able to juke the defender off balance. The Aztec guard took full advantage of it, pulling up for a midrange jumper and releasing it just in time before the buzzer.
Swish! Nothing but net for the Aztecs who defeated FAU, 72-71.
“The plan was just to get downhill, they cut me off a little bit, I looked up there was two seconds left, so I got to a shot I was comfortable with and I hit it,” Butler told CBS’ Tracy Wolfson during a postgame interview.
Butler called the moment “unbelievable,” adding that “it’s what I came here to do.”
“I’m glad the shot went in and I’m just happy for my team right now,” he said.
SDSU head coach Brian Dutcher explained why he didn’t call a timeout during the Aztecs’ last possession.
“I ran out of plays, so I decided to not take a timeout,” Dutcher said. “So I said if we get the rebound, let’s get downhill, send off three bigs to the rim, Lamont get downhill and he made the play. I’m proud of him.”
The Aztecs as a team have shown they aren’t afraid of the big moment, since Darrion Trammell hit a game-winning free throw with 1.2 seconds in the Elite 8 game against Creighton University.
Let’s see if it’s Butler again or someone else on the Aztecs team who comes through with a huge bucket in the championship, should the game be a close one.