LAS VEGAS, NV - MARCH 12: Head coach Steve Fisher of the San Diego State Aztecs waves a net after cutting it down following the team's 72-54 victory over the Brigham Young University Cougars in the championship game of the Conoco Mountain West Conference Basketball tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center March 12, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
I don't know if the 3rd time truly is the charm, but if the cliche fits, use it. San Diego State lost its first two games to BYU, the only two times the Aztecs lost this season. SDSU got payback, with interest.
The Aztecs throttled the Cougars 72-54 in the Mountain West Conference Tournament final in Las Vegas. They did it by playing lockdown defense, not just on Jimmer Fredette, but the entire BYU offense. State forced nine turnovers and challenged enough shots to force the normally sharpshooting Cougars to hit just 32% from the field, 25% from the 3-point line.
A night after scoring 52 points against New Mexico, national player of the year frontrunner Jimmer Fredette got 30 against the Aztecs. But he needed 25 shots to get them, and he was BYU's only viable scoring threat.
The Aztecs, on the other hand, had plenty of scoring options. Billy White led the way with 21 points, Kawhi Leonard was right behind him with 20. D.J. Gay, who hit the game-winner against UNLV on Friday night, went scoreless but fellow guard Chase Tapley picked up the slack with 14 points.
San Diego State gets its 2nd straight MWC Tourney title, but more important is they now have a legitimate claim to a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Like SDSU, Kansas has 32 wins and is guaranteed a top seed. Even if Ohio St. loses the Big 10 tourney final the Buckeyes figure to have a top seed locked up as well. So, the Aztecs are basically competing against somebody from the incredibly deep Big East, and the winner of the ACC Tournament final, either Duke or North Carolina. We'll find out Sunday afternoon how the selection committee sees it.