No. 7 San Diego State remained unbeaten on the road this season and knocked off Utah State 74-69 in overtime on Saturday night.
Utah State has The Hurd. San Diego State has The Show. These are two of the best student sections in college basketball today, giving their respective teams a loud and proud home court advantage that translates into wins in front of their faithful fans. Utah State is among the Top 5 nationally, with a 91.3% home winning record.
Sometimes it isn't enough. Sometimes you need an X factor, and that's what the Aztecs have in senior point guard Xavier Thames. He recorded a career-high 31 points along with four assists, three steals and no turnovers.
San Diego State was the first of the Mountain West's top teams to venture into Dee Glen Smith Spectrum this season and getting a win there is as hard as advertised.
In the first half, it was business as usual for the Aztecs of late. They shot just 33% from the field but still held a 28-24 halftime lead. Thames led the way for San Diego State with eight points. For the Aggies, Jarred Shaw had just two points and was in foul trouble early with three first half personal fouls. Backup center Jordan Stone led the Aggies in first half scoring with six points.
Utah State grabbed the lead 44-43 with 11:46 remaining in the second half. They did not surrender the lead until 2:53 left in the game when the Aztecs led 53-52. With 16 seconds remaining, the Aztecs were up 57-54. The Aggies brought the ball up and Spencer Butterfield made a contested three pointer to tie the game at 57-57 and send it in to overtime.
San Diego State led for much of the overtime period, with Thames scoring 10 of the Aztecs 17 points in OT. As a team, San Diego State made their final six free throws to seal the victory. On the night, they shot just 69% from the free throw line, but they made them when it counted. It was volume free throws once again as the Aztecs got to the line 29 times compared to just seven times for the Aggies.
For the Aztecs, Winston Shepard had 10 points and six rebounds. Josh Davis had 12 rebounds and six points.
Spencer Butterfield and Jalen Moore combined for 35 of the Aggies 69 points and shot a combined 67% from the field. The Aggies shot 52.7% as a team. Conversely the Aztecs shot only 41.7% from the field. The difference came down to turnovers. The Aggies turned the ball over 17 times to just six for the Aztecs.
Jarred Shaw fouled out with just four points. Kyle Davis did not play for the Aggies as he was still sidelined with a knee injury.
The Aztecs have the week off before hosting Colorado State on Saturday, February 1.