Las Vegas, NV — Xavier Thames and his Aztec teammates put on a basketball clinic when it comes to defense, rebounding and shooting vs Utah State and gave the Aggies a not so warm welcome to their first ever Mountain West tournament quarterfinal. Thames, the conference player of the year, dropped 15 points and seven assists to lead No. 8 ranked San Diego State to a brutal 73-39 defeat of the Aggies.
The Aztecs simply played about as close to perfect basketball as any team could. They shot 52.5 percent from the field, including a very impressive 7-of-17 from 3-point range. The Aztecs also out-rebounded Utah State 35-27 and outscored them in the paint, 40-14. Anyone who has followed Stew Morrill coached teams at Utah State, will tell that does not happen very often, if ever.
Winston Shepard chipped in 13 points for the Aztecs, while Josh Davis, who played an exceptional game, contributed eight points and 13 boards.
Jarred Shaw scored 14 points for Utah State who shot a miserable 12-of-41 from the floor. The poor offensive performance for the Aggies was a large part due to San Diego State’s defensive pressure, which has the ability to take teams out of most everything they plan to do on offense.
Utah State’s 12 field goals made tied a Mountain West Tournament record for fewest made field goals in a game, as did their one made 3-pointer.
In the second quarterfinal game Bryce Dejean-Jones and Roscoe Smith combined for 40 points off the bench as No. 4 seed UNLV fought through to beat a very determined Wyoming posse 71-67.
UNLV had two key scoring runs after halftime to pull away from the Cowboys (18-14), which allowed them to build a 13-point lead. However, the Pokes made one last rally in the final 1:40, coming within one at 66-65 with Jerron Granberry’s three-point scoring drive.
SG Dejean-Jones led the Rebels with 22 points while Smith scored 18 and controlled the boards with 13 rebounds. Deville Smith added 15 points for the Rebels and was the only starter to score a bucket in the first half. Star Rebel Khem Birch, was 0-for-4 in the first half and finished with eight points. Birch appeared to get hurt in the early minutes of the second half and played on, but it was clear he was not physically at 100%.
Josh Adams, who put on a show in the first half scoring 18 points led Wyoming with 24 points. Nathan Sobey scored 18 as did Granberry, which was his season high.
The Rebels (20-12) meet top-seed and 8th ranked San Diego State (28-3) in Friday’s semifinal game.
The evening session started off with New Mexico drubbing Fresno State 93-77. Lobos star Cameron Bairstow had 21 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks to lead No. 20 New Mexico. The Lobos used a very aggressive defense that dominated the boards and forced Fresno State to make a lot of mistakes, that helped the 2-seeded Lobos build a 16-point lead and push it up to as many as 19 in the second half.
New Mexico (25-6) out-rebounded the #7 seed Bulldogs 40-25, and dominated the paint, out-scoring the Bulldogs 42-20. New Mexico never was behind after opening the game on a 14-3 run.
Bairstow’s 7-foot teammate Alex Kirk also had 21 points, while the Lobo backcourt was led by Kendall Williams’ 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds.
Fresno State (17-16) had four players score in double figures, led by Allen Huddleston’s 18 points. Alex Davis dropped in 17 points and Paul Watson contributed with 16 to go with Marvelle Harris’s 13.
The Lobos, shot 57 percent from the field, which included 61 percent in the second half. Fresno State struggled, shooting just 40 percent going 25 of 63. However, Bulldogs came within six, but New Mexico used a 15-7 run to close the half and extend their lead to 49-35. The Lobos are now 7-0 all-time as a #2 seed in the Mountain West tournament.
In the night cap game Ryan Watkins scored 15 points and nabbed 10 rebounds as No. 6 seed Boise State defeated No. 3 seed Nevada 75-62.
With the game tied 32-32 at halftime, the Broncos opened the second half with a 15-2 run to take a 47-34 lead. Nevada came back to take a one-point lead, 57-56 when Michael Perez scored with six6 minutes remaining. Thomas Bropleh for Boise State then answered with a 3, followed by a Ryan Watkins score and the Broncos made four free throws to go up 65-57. The Broncos then proceeded to finish off their 19-5 run and finish the Wolf Pack.
Derrick Marks scored 16 points and went 11-of-11 from the foul line on the night. Anthony Drmic also dropped 17 points for the Broncos despite leaving the game and returning at one point with an apparent shoulder issue.
Nevada senior point guard Deonte Burton, who has been hot scoring of late, scored 22 points and Cole Huff dropped 17 points for Nevada who finishes off their season at 15-17.
Boise State (21-12) will play No. 2 seed New Mexico (25-6) in the semifinals tonight.