If San Diego State continues to shoot the ball like this, expect to see them in this year’s Final Four at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.
Guard Xavier Thames popped out of a recent shooting slump with 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting to pace the No. 13 Aztecs in an 82-67 win over the resurgent Fresno State Bulldogs. Thames, who committed his first turnover in five games early in the first half, is considered to be one of the front runners for Mountain West conference player of the year.
Much of Thames’ play tonight could be credited to reserve guard Aqeel Quinn. The California State University, Northridge transfer emerged off the bench to score 17 points, highlighted by 4-of-5 shooting beyond the three-point line. His ease into the offense took a lot of pressure off Thames, as both players were key components to the Aztecs (25-3, 14-2) shooting a blazing 60 percent from the field.
The Bulldogs (15-15, 8-9) entered the game as one of the hottest teams in the country, winning seven of their last eight games in the Mountain West. Their turnaround is remarkable, considering their run is the role reversal of their previous eight in which they were 1-7, including a double overtime loss to Nevada (89-78) and an overtime loss to University of Nevada, Las Vegas. They will definitely be a tough out for whoever the face in the pending conference tournament and have a serious chance to gain the Mountain West automatic bid.
The guard play of Tyler Johnson (18 points) and Marvelle Harris (17 points) caused the Aztecs trouble early, as SDSU led 40-35 at half. However, the customary Aztecs defense controlled the pace and the glass in the second half, finishing the game with an overall 34-21 advantage on the glass.
Even with the loss and the slow start to the season, the Bulldogs have notched their most conference wins (eight) since they recorded 10 in 2006-07, their last winning season. They’ll play at San Jose State next Saturday to conclude the regular season with an opportunity to finish over .500.
The win puts the Aztecs on target for a showdown with New Mexico in their finale, with a potential for the league title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney on the line.