San Diego State will move on to the Sweet Sixteen, powered by a commanding performance by Xavier Thames in a 63-44 NCAA Tournament win Saturday over the North Dakota State Bison.
That gives the Aztecs an opportunity for almost a home game, as the West Regional of the NCAA Tournament takes place in Anaheim at the Honda Center beginning Thursday. The team will play the winner of the Arizona-Gonzaga game, scheduled to start in San Diego at 6:40 p.m. Sunday.
It’s the Aztecs’ second trip to the Sweet Sixteen since 2011. They have never made it to the Final Four.
The Aztecs, who often struggle on offense, missed nine of 10 shots early in the first half and the Bison reeled off seven unanswered points near the 6-minute mark. Then San Diego State moved ahead with seven unanswered points of its own.
The team pulled away as Thames scored 30, while holding the Bison to no points for six minutes as the clock wound down.
But San Diego State began to take charge late in the first half. Thames and Dwayne Polee hit 3-pointers in the midst of a 15-3 run, giving the Aztecs a 30-23 lead.
The Aztecs also continued a long streak Saturday. The team has won 119 straight when ahead with 5 minutes remaining in the game, though they had a scare Thursday when New Mexico State pushed them into overtime.