Aztecs Cut Down The Nets In Vegas
For the second straight year, San Diego State won the Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship in Las Vegas. The Aztecs controlled the title game from start to finish in a 72-54 win over BYU before a raucous sellout crowd at the Thomas & Mack Center. San Diego State (32-2) and BYU (30-4) were co-champions of the MWC in the regular season, but the Cougars took both head-to-head meetings to earn the top seed in the conference tournament. But this was the first meeting since BYU suspended forward Brandon Davies indefinitely for violating the school’s honor code, and the outcome was much different than the first two meetings. The Aztecs dominated on the inside, getting huge performances from forwards Billy White (21 points, 12 rebounds) and Kawhi Leonard (18 points, 8 rebounds.) The Cougars struggled all afternoon, shooting just 6-of-24 from three-point range. Even Jimmer Fredette, coming off a school and conference-record 52 point game Friday night against New Mexico, had an off night by his standards. Fredette finished with 30 points, but only shot 10-of-25 from the floor and even missed three free throws.
The Aztecs took control of the game late in the first half to take a 43-31 lead at halftime (a leaning three-pointer by Fredette as the half ended was initially counted but later waved off after replay review.) The second half brought more of the same, as San Diego State steadily built its lead, eventually reaching 60-37 to seemingly put the game out of reach. But BYU responded with a 15-2 run to cut the deficit to 62-52 with just under four minutes to go. That was as close as it would get though, as the Aztecs answered with a 10-0 rally of their own to put the finishing touches on the victory.
With the win, the Aztecs earn the automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament, where they are expected to be no worse than a #2 seed.