#AztecMBB-Arizona Rematch Set For NCAA Sweet 16
March 25, 2014
SAN DIEGO -
San Diego State returns to the Sweet 16 for the second time in the last four seasons as the No. 13/11 and fourth-seeded Aztecs (31-4 overall; 16-2 Mountain West) face No. 4/5 and top-seeded Arizona (32-4 overall; 15-3 PAC-12) in the West Region semifinals Thursday night in Anaheim.
Honda Center, located 93 miles north of San Diego State University, is the site for the West Regional with sixth-seeded Baylor facing second-seeded Wisconsin in the first semifinal at 4:47 p.m. PT, which will be followed by the Aztec-Wildcat game. The game will be shown nationally on TBS, with national radio coverage on Westwood One (Ted Robinson, Bill Frieder) and local coverage on The Mighty 1090 (Ted Leitner).
The Aztecs, who did not win an NCAA tournament game in its first 40 seasons at the Division I level claimed its fifth tourney victory in the past four seasons with a 63-44 third-round win over North Dakota State on Saturday afternoon in Spokane, Wash. San Diego State trailed 20-15 late in the first half, but went on a 15-3 run over the final six-plus minutes of the first half to open a 30-23 advantage at intermission and never looked back. The spurt was a part of a larger 20-5 game-deciding run that gave SDSU control of the contest.
Senior guard Xavier Thames, the Mountain West player of the year, posted the second-highest scoring game of his career with a game-high 30 points (4-9 three-point field goals) and a game-high five assists to lead the Aztecs. Junior Dwayne Polee II came off the bench to add 15 points and six rebounds to reach double-figures for a career-best fourth straight game.
Once again San Diego State put together an impressive defensive performance, limiting the nation's top field-goal percentage team to just 31.9 percent from the floor, including 2-for-11 from beyond the arc. It marked the 20th time this season that the Aztecs have not allowed its opponent to eclipse 40 percent in field-goal percentage. San Diego State also owned a +11 advantage on the glass and committed just six turnovers.
The victory extended a number of notable streaks, including a 120-game winning streak when leading with five minutes to play, a 34-game win streak when owning a higher field-goal percentage than its opponent, a 25-game winning streak when leading at intermission, a 24-game winning streak when attempting more free throws and a 22-game winning streak when the opponent shoots 40 percent or less from the field.
Although the Aztecs are making just their second appearance in the Sweet 16, head coach Steve Fisher, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, is back in the round for the sixth time in his coaching career. Fisher's six appearances are the fifth-highest total among coaches still remaining in the event and owns a 4-1 record in this round.
On Thursday, San Diego State will look to extend a 20-game winning streak in games played in the state of California. The streak is the longest active run in the nation for any team (only includes games played since the beginning of the 2001-02 campaign).
To earn the school's first Elite Eight appearance, the Aztecs will have to defeat No. 4/5 Arizona. The teams met earlier this season back on Nov. 14, when the Wildcats claimed a 69-60 victory at Viejas Arena in San Diego. The Aztecs, who trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and found themselves down by 11 at halftime, went on a furious rally late in the game and cut their deficit to four points with 1:22 left in the game.
San Diego State and Arizona are meeting for the 30th time in school history, with the Wildcats owning a 22-7 series lead. Arizona has won the last two encounters, including the game played 133 days ago this Thursday. The teams have split the last four meetings and the last three games have been decided by a total of 14 points.