San Diego State fell to mid-major Florida Gulf Coast in the Round of 32 a year ago, but Xavier Thames wasn't about to let it happen again. The Aztecs' senior guard was the motor that powered San Diego State to a 63-44 victory over North Dakota State. The Aztecs are going to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2011.
Thames, the Mountain West Player of the Year, finished with 30 points, while the rest of his teammates combined to score 33. Thames also added six assists in the win. North Dakota State had no answer for Thames when he put his head down and was determined to get to the rim.
San Diego State has been carried by its defense the entire season, and the story was no different against the Bison. North Dakota State shot 15-of-48 from the floor and only made two of its 11 three-pointers. The Aztecs entered the tournament as the No. 7 team in Ken Pom's defensive efficiency rankings, and got back to their roots after struggling in an overtime victory against New Mexico State in the Round of 64.
Dwayne Polee II added 15 points and six rebounds off the bench on 4-of-8 shooting. San Diego State dominated the boards (37-28) and shot 44 percent from the floor.
The Bison's season ends following a thrilling overtime victory against No. 5 Oklahoma in the Round of 64. Kory Brown had 13 points for North Dakota State in the loss.