From the opening moments until the closing seconds, it was all about tournament MVP Xavier Thames, who led the San Diego State Aztecs to a 67-59 victory Sunday night over 25th-ranked Marquette.
It wasn't easy. It rarely is with the Aztecs. But they found a way to win, and that is an early season characteristic that head coach Steve Fisher has to like about his team this year. If they continue to play like a team, which means four or five guys score in double figures each night, and continue to keep up their defensive intensity, the Aztecs will be one of the top teams in the country.
This week had a rare couple of night's where the spotlight shined brightly on one Aztec in particular, and he was up to the challenge. Senior point guard Xavier Thames rose to the occasion, setting a career-high 26 points on Friday in the win over No. 20 Creighton and then besting that mark with 29 points against Marquette. No other Aztec reached double figures in scoring against Marquette. Josh Davis did reach double figures in rebounding, pulling down 11 total rebounds, including four on the offensive end. Davis joined Thames on the all-tournament team.
The Aztecs held Jamil Wilson of the Golden Eagles in check, limiting him to nine points and three rebounds. Super sub Davante Gardner was suffering from an illness and played reduced minutes. He contributed six points and eight rebounds. Deonte Burton definitely gave Marquette a spark off the bench, scoring 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting.
Thames was left off the 2013-14 Mountain West Conference preseason media all-conference team. The Aztecs were picked to finish fourth in the conference. The results of this week may have people wanting to change their votes.
Next up San Diego State takes on cross-town rival University of San Diego on Thursday, December 5 at 11 pm EST.