Top-Seeded #8/7 Aztecs Roll to Semis with 73-39 Win Over Utah State
By W.G. Ramirez
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Xavier Thames and San Diego State put on a clinic to welcome Utah State to its first Mountain West tournament.
Conference player of the year Thames had 15 points and seven assists to lead No. 8 San Diego State to a 73-39 victory over the Aggies in the quarterfinals.
"We played really, really good basketball, keyed by how we defended them," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "We dictated the pace. That's hard to do — harder to do than it looked. They're a hard team to guard. They run around and they screen."
The top-seeded Aztecs shot 52.5 percent from the field, including 7 of 17 from 3-point range. San Diego State also outrebounded the Aggies 35-27 and outscored Utah State in the paint, 40-14.
Winston Shepard added 13 points for the Aztecs, while Josh Davis had eight points and 13 rebounds.
Jarred Shaw led Utah State with 14 points and Utah State shot 12 of 41 from the floor.
"San Diego State just takes you out of everything you're trying to do," Utah State coach Stew Morrill said. "At least they took us out of everything we were trying to do. They're able to switch almost every screen. Their quickness, their athleticism can be overwhelming, and it was today."
The Aggies' 12 field goals tied the record for fewest made field goals in a Mountain West tournament game, while their one made 3-pointer tied for the fewest.
"We had a lot of shots, open shots, that we often make, and we couldn't get them to go," Morrill said. "I thought, you know, there wasn't enough open shots because their defense was just so outstanding."
San Diego State, which swept the regular-season series against first-year member Utah State, will face the winner of the UNLV-Wyoming game.
The Aztecs opened the second half with the first six points, and a 23-10 run to go up 59-25 at the 12:41 mark.
"We wanted to come in and play a good defensive game," Thames said. "Offensively we wanted to come and play well as well. I think we did both of those things. That's why we got a big win today."