NDSU had already beat SDSU twice this season, but this was a different SDSU team that defeated the Bisons 63-44.
Sporting events between SDSU and NDSU happen quite frequently, but it is usually a South vs. North battle for bragging rights in the Dakotas. This time it was No. 4 seed San Diego State against No. 12 seed North Dakota State in the third round of the NCAA tournament. This time the North didn't win the war, as the Aztecs of Southern California defeated the Bisons by 19 points.
Xavier Thames was the show for the Aztecs in the first half, scoring 16 of their 30 points to push San Diego State to a 30-23 lead at the half. He was 4-of-7 on three pointers and 4-of-5 from the free throw line. Dwayne Polee II had seven points and six early rebounds. The Aztecs held the Bisons top scorer, Taylor Braun, to 1-of-10 shooting and three points in the first half. Kory Brown stepped up with nine first-half points for North Dakota State.
In the second half, the Aztecs defense continued to bother the Bisons and kept them away from the basket. Braun was limited to 2-for-14 for the game and just 7 points. Kory Brown finished with 13 points to lead North Dakota State. Marshall Bjorklund had six of his eight points in the second half.
The Aztecs held the Bisons to 12 points below their season low. They held one of the best shooting teams to 20 percentage points under their season average for shooting. They prevented all four of their players who average in double-figure scoring for the season from getting out of single digits.
Thames finished with 30 points and five assists for San Diego State. Polee had 15 points and six rebounds. Josh Davis had six points and 13 rebounds.
San Diego State has now won 120 straight games when leading with 5:00 remaining. At that mark, the Aztecs held a 8-point lead today. They used a 12-0 run to push the lead up to 20 points and finished with a 19-point victory.
San Diego State advances to play the winner of Arizona and Gonzaga. They are also headed back to the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., which is becoming their home away from home. Earlier this season, they won three games there to capture the inaugural Wooden Legacy tournament over Creighton and Marquette.