5 seed San Diego State defeated 3 seed New Mexico in a tight game Saturday evening. SDSU’s Trey Kell scored 28 points and Malik Pope had 16 points and 5 rebounds in the win versus the Lobos.
In the first half, both teams played close, as San Diego State led by one going into the locker room. In the second half, the Lobos led by as much as six, though the Aztecs gained the lead with 6:19 to go, and they kept it for the rest of the game.
SDSU shot 50% from the field and 33% from behind the arc. The Aztecs out rebounded UNM by six boards. New Mexico had a field goal percentage of 41% and 33% from deep as well. Both teams has the same amount of steals and turnovers and similar amounts of blocks and assists.
Trey Kell has stepped up the entire post season scoring 16 points against Fresno State in the quarterfinals and 11 versus Nevada in the semis. Tonight was a different night for Kell, going 10-16 from the field, though only hitting one three. Kell also hit 7 free throws. Malik Pope also played great, scoring 16 points off 5 shots.
For New Mexico, 5 players scored in double figures. Senior guard Antino Jackson had 17 points and 7 assists. Jackson also hit two threes and all five of his free throws.
With the win tonight, San Diego State continued their now nine game win streak. The team defeated Fresno State in the quarterfinals by double digits, and upset Nevada by a large margin of 17 points, though was up 30 at one point. A few weeks ago, this team was considered a bad loss in tournament resumes. After a loss to Nevada on February 10th, the Aztecs have been unstoppable.
New Mexico’s head coach Paul Weir is a first year head coach, though coached New Mexico State to a WAC Championship last season. NMSU is playing Grand Canyon in the WAC Tournament Championship tonight.
San Diego State also has a first year head coach in Brain Dutcher, though he was part of the team for all 18 seasons of Steve Fisher’s venture, so it wasn’t much of a switch.
This is San Diego State’s first Mountain West Tournament Championship since 2011, and their first tournament appearance since 2015.