If you are a team in the NCAA tournament, it is imperative that your best players show up for every game and make their presences felt. It just so happens that Xavier Thames’ presence appears to be enough to carry San Diego State to a deep tournament run.
The senior guard has been the best player on the court in every game he has played in since the tournament began. Thames has provided the Aztecs with a powerful offensive punch that few teams have. Few guards in the college basketball ranks match his quickness and athleticism. He has the ability to attack the hole and the stroke to knock down perimeter shots.
In SDSU’s Thursday tourney matchup with New Mexico State, Thames scored a game-high 23 points and five assists in a 73-69 overtime victory. He also forced three steals and two blocks. His team benefited most from his consistent free-throw shooting as he went 10-for-12 from the line. He was a man determined to advance.
Tonight, against a hot-shooting North Dakota State Bison (or Bizon as North Dakotans call them), Thames was in even more rare form. Once again he led all scorers with 30 points and dished a game-high five assists. He was the Aztecs’ offense as the second-highest scorer was reserve forward Dwayne Polee II, who scored 15 points, but played starter minutes. The rest of SDSU’s team played somewhat uninspired, but Thames was all it needed to beat the Bison 63-44.
If he can continue to play like this, the Aztecs may have enough offense to compliment their stellar defense. He has had an incredible season, but is having a better tournament. There are few players increasing their draft stock as much as Thames is right now, but he is obviously concentrating on winning on a national championship.