The rematch of San Diego State vs. Boise State pitted the best defense against the best offense in the Mountain West. But it was the second half offense of the Aztecs that led to a 67-65 victory for San Diego State to stay unbeaten in conference play.
Ranked fifth in the country, San Diego State (20-1) has a 19-game winning streak and is 9-0 against their Mountain West opponents. They are also a perfect 10-0 in road/neutral site games.
Boise State has played better than their 15-8 record would suggest. They are 5-5 in conference, but their losses aren't bad ones, and they have been close. They lost on the road to New Mexico, San Diego State and UNLV and lost at home to Wyoming and now San Diego State. Tonight was no exception, as the Broncos found a way to lose another close one.
In the first half, Boise State shot 55% from the field and 46% on three pointers. They built up a nine point lead at the midway point and grew their advantage to 14 points in the second half with under 11 minutes to play. It appeared that it was Boise State's night.
But San Diego State revved up their defense intensity, started making more shots and went on an 18-2 run to take a two point lead with four minutes remaining. Then Mickey Thompson made a layup and Derrick Marks made a jumper to give the Broncos a three-point lead with under two minutes left. Xavier Thames made two free throws to cut the lead to just one.
After a missed jumper by Marks, Thames brought the ball up with only 17 seconds remaining. He drove to the basket but was double teamed. He kicked it out to Dwayne Polee II, who hit an open three pointer to put the Aztecs up by two with five seconds remaining. Marks missed a shot at the buzzer, and the Aztecs comeback victory was complete.
In numerous games this season, the Aztecs have found a way to win when shooting sub 40% from the field and 60% from the line. Tonight they shot 59% from the field and 70% from the free throw line and barely pulled off the win. They are a team that maintains its composure and does what the situation demands in order to win.
Thames scored 23 points, including 10-11 from the free throw line, to lead the Aztecs. Josh Davis had a terrific game after sitting out Saturday against Colorado State with a knee bruise. He didn't practice much all week but played tough defense and gave the Aztecs 10 points and five rebounds. Polee finished with 9 points in 19 minutes off the bench.
Next up, the Aztecs host Nevada on Saturday, February 8 in the only game between the two schools this season.