#AztecMBB to Face UNM in MW Championship Game
March 14, 2014
LAS VEGAS -
Top-seeded and No. T-8/7 San Diego State, winners of a Mountain West-record four tournament titles and a record eight overall MW championships, will look to add to its trophy case on Saturday when the Aztecs face No. 20/20 and second-seeded New Mexico in the title game of the 2014 Reese's MW Championship.
San Diego State will play in its seventh Mountain West tournament championship game (4-2) and the ninth tourney title game of the Division I era (6-2). In addition, SDSU will put its school-record four game-winning streak against AP Top-25 teams on the line (teams defeated this season during the current streak: vs. No. 20 Creighton, vs. No. 25 Marquette, at No. 16 Kansas, No. 21 New Mexico).
The Aztecs advanced to the championship game for the fifth time in six seasons by defeating Utah State, 73-39, in the quarterfinals, and UNLV, 59-51, in the semifinals. The Aztecs have yet to trail in the second half of either of their first two tournament games.
The Aztecs ran their win streak to six games on Friday with the eight-point win at UNLV. After falling behind 7-0, SDSU used a 17-4 run and never looked back. The Aztecs pushed the advantage to 15 points midway through the second half before settling for the eight-point win.
Junior forward Dwayne Polee II (2014 Mountain West Sixth Man of the Year) scored a game-high 18 points and added six rebounds and three steals. He connected on 3-of-5 attempts from three-point range. After posting 10 double-digit scoring games in the first 78 games of his career, the junior now has five in his last 10 outings.
Senior guard Xavier Thames (2014 Mountain West Player of the Year, first-team all-conference, all-conference defensive team) added 17 points, six assists and just one turnover in the game. For the tournament, the All-America candidate now has 32 points, 13 assists, four rebounds and just two turnovers in 56 minutes.
The Aztecs were outshot in the game (UNLV 41.3 percent, San Diego State 36.4 percent), but SDSU used advantages from the free-throw line (14-8), on the glass (34-29) and in turnovers (9-13) to overcome the shooting percentage.
Remarkably, San Diego State improved to 8-3 this season when owning a lower field-goal percentage than its opponent and is 10-3 when shooting 40 percent or less from the field. The Aztecs improved to 76-3 the last 79 times it has held an opponent to 60 points or less, won for the 23rd straight time when leading at intermission and the 118th straight time when up with five minutes remaining.
Now, San Diego State and New Mexico - the two programs that have combined to win the last four Mountain West tournaments - meet for the fifth time in tournament history, with New Mexico owning a 3-1 advantage. In every season the teams have met in the Mountain West event, the winner has gone onto win the tournament. In 2005, the Lobos won in the semifinals (UNM won the event that year), 2010 the Aztecs won in the semifinals (SDSU won the event that year), 2012 the Lobos won in the championship game and in 2013 the Lobos won in the semifinals (UNM won the event that year).