SPOKANE, Wash. — Senior point guard Xavier Thames scored 30 points to carry San Diego State to a 63-44 victory over North Dakota State in third-round action Saturday afternoon in the NCAA Tournament.
The Aztecs (31-4), seeded fourth in the West Regional, advance to the Sweet 16 for the second time in school history. San Diego State plays Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., against the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 1 seed Arizona (31-4) and No. 8 seed Gonzaga (29-6).
Thames, the Mountain West Conference Player of the Year, dominated 12th-seeded North Dakota State (26-7) by scoring on a steady stream of outside jumpers, drives to the basket and free throws. He sank 9 of 19 shots from the field, including 4 of 9 3-pointers, and hit 8 of 9 free throws.
The Aztecs held the Bison to a season low in scoring. San Diego State started the day ranked second in the nation, with just 56.6 points allowed per game.
North Dakota State shot 31.9 percent and sank only 2 of 11 3-pointers (18.2 percent). San Diego State shot 43.2 percent and connected on 7 of 16 treys (43.8 percent).
Forward Dwayne Polee II, San Diego State’s sixth man, scored 15 points, grabbed six rebounds and contributed to the suffocating defensive play. Forward Josh Davis, San Diego State’s third-leading scorer in the game with six points, hauled down 13 rebounds to help the Aztecs outrebound North Dakota State 37-28.
Guard Kory Brown scored 13 points for NDSU. Guard Taylor Braun, the Summit Conference player of the year, went 2 of 14 from the field and scored seven points. He was averaging 18 points.
San Diego State led 30-27 at halftime behind 16 points from Thames. The Aztecs outscored the Bison 15-3 over the final six minutes and did not allow a field goal during that time.
The Bison shot just 28.6 percent in the first half, including 25 percent on 3-pointers.
Braun hit only 1 of 10 shots and scored three points.
Brown led the Bison with nine points.
Davis grabbed eight rebounds and hounded Bison forward Marshall Bjorklund on defense. Bjorklund made 1 of 3 shots for three points in the half.
Bjorklund started the day second in NCAA Division I with a 63.4 shooting percentage, and his career mark of 65.4 led all active Division I players.
NOTES: San Diego State senior PG Xavier Thames played at nearby Washington State as a freshman. Washington State was the host school for the second- and third-round games in Spokane. … Thames is one of six Aztecs, and three starters, who started out at other four-year schools. Forwards Josh Davis (Tulane) and JJ O’Brien (Utah) are starters. Reserve forwards Dwayne Polee II (St. John’s) and James Johnson (Virginia) also transferred, as did backup G Aqeel Quinn (Cal State Northridge). Two other transfers, F Angelo Chol (Arizona) and G Parker U’u (Hartford), redshirted this season. … Davis, a fifth-year senior, played at North Carolina State as a freshman. He graduated from Tulane last year, so he did not have to sit out a season when he transferred to San Diego State. … North Dakota State won the regular-season and tournament championships in the Summit Conference. San Diego State won the regular-season title in the Mountain West Conference and lost to New Mexico in the championship game of the conference tournament.
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