PHILADELPHIA — San Diego State traveled 2,732 miles to play in the NCAA tournament. The Aztecs surely didn’t mind delaying their return trip home.
Jamaal Franklin scored 21 points, James Rahon had 17 and San Diego State beat Oklahoma 70-55 on Friday night to earn its third NCAA tournament victory.
The seventh-seeded Aztecs (23-10) will play No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday in the South Regional. The Eagles introduced themselves to the college basketball world with a 78-68 win over Georgetown.
After that thriller, this game never stood a chance.
The Aztecs did nothing spectacular, but everything well and used a modest 8-0 run late in the second half to snap a tie game and take control.
Romero Osby scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Sooners (20-12).
The Aztecs are in the tournament for the fourth straight season but they had only won games in 2011 when they reached the round of 16.
Built around upperclassman, the Aztecs firmly believed they had a deep run ahead and wanted to send out seniors like Chase Tapley and DeShawn Stevens as winners. They treated the game like a business trip and played like it, doing enough to advance for at least one more game.
Basketball fans looking for flashy dunks and YouTube worthy highlights will have to look at other games around the bracket.
Most of the crowd of 20,125 — perhaps spent from watching the Florida Gulf Coast-Georgetown upset — left by the time the Aztecs wrapped this one up.
There was nothing spectacular about the way the Aztecs constructed their win. They just methodically picked apart OU’s defense one open look at a time.
Tapley snapped a 50-all tie with a layup and Stephens made a fantastic out-of-nowhere tip in off a missed layup during a routine 8-0 run that, fittingly, was the difference.
Osby broke up the fun with a 3 to keep the Sooners within striking distance
But Rahon hit a 3 and Franklin buried a long jumper for a 10-point lead. Rahon jogged off the court during a substitution to an appreciative ovation from the fans behind the bench. Coach Steve Fisher slapped him on the back for job well done.
No other player hit double digits for the Sooners. Lon Kruger became the first coach to lead five different programs to the NCAA tournament. He brought Kansas State, Florida, Illinois and UNLV into the tournament.
Osby was their lone sense of hope. Every time the Aztecs seemed they might stretch their lead even more, Osby was there with a short jumper or tough basket inside. Once the Aztecs broke through and took the lead for good, they simply made the parade of free throws in the final minutes to seal it.
A small pocket of fans chanted “Coach! Coach! Coach!” as Fisher walked off a winner. The Aztecs made 16 of 17 free throws; OU was just 4 of 8.
Behind Osby, Oklahoma led 33-31 at the break. With no other support, the Sooners couldn’t keep it going another 20 minutes.