New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Score, Grades, Analysis from MWC Tournament 2014

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New Mexico vs. San Diego State: Score, Grades, Analysis from MWC Tournament 2014
Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

The New Mexico Lobos are the 2014 Mountain West Conference champions after holding off a late-game surge from the No. 1 seed San Diego State Aztecs to win by a score of 64-58.

This game marked a thrilling conclusion to the MWC tournament in front of a jam-packed crowd at the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.

New Mexico's depth was on display on Saturday night, as three of its five starters posted double-digit numbers.

The Lobos offense was led by Cameron Bairstow, who scored 17 points, including going 11-of-14 from the free-throw line, and added nine rebounds, one assist and two blocks.

Guards Kendall Williams and Hugh Greenwood combined for 28 points, while center Alex Kirk dominated the boards, recording a game-high 11 rebounds.

The Aztecs received some solid play from Winston Shepard and Xavier Thames. Both were instrumental in San Diego State's late charge, recording 13 and 15 points, respectively.

The Lobos maintained some solid shooting late, hitting 40.9 percent of their shots from the field, while the Aztecs faltered after a late charge, finishing the game making just 35.7 percent of their shots.

The Lobos were a little lackadaisical handling the ball, as they had 15 turnovers and allowed the Aztecs to come away with 11 steals. However New Mexico got the better of San Diego State in the paint, out-rebounding the Aztecs 39-32.

In what may have been the difference-maker in the game, the Lobos connected on 81.5 percent of their free throws while the Aztecs only shot 59.1 percent from the line.

New Mexico will now enter the NCAA tournament with a great head of steam, while San Diego State—despite this lossstill has the firepower necessary to do some damage entering the next phase of March Madness.

Both teams carry the potential to make a run deep into March, but a lot will depend on matchups. New Mexico's ability to beat up on people down low with Bairstow and Kirk will make it a difficult out moving forward, while the slashing style of Thames will make the Aztecs a difficult team to derail in this year's March Madness field.

 

Game Grades

Cameron Bairstow, F, New Mexico

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Bairstow's solid free-throw shooting was one of the driving factors behind New Mexico's upset victory. Making 11 of 14 attempts from the line, he finished the game with a total of 17 points and added nine rebounds. Bairstow stepped up when it mattered most and allowed the Lobos to hang on to their lead.

Game Grade: A

 

Kendall Williams, G, New Mexico

Williams was one of the most efficient players on the New Mexico squad on Saturday. He made four of nine attempts from the field and all six of his shots from the line. His 16-point performance was huge for the Lobos.

Game Grade: A

 

Alex Kirk, C, New Mexico

Kirk did what he was supposed to do on Saturday night. He attacked the rim on offense and defense, connecting on four of six shots from the field for eight points and recording a game-high 11 rebounds.

Game Grade: A

 

Xavier Thames, G, San Diego State

Thames scored a team-high 15 points for the Aztecs on Saturday; however, he wasn't exactly efficient. He connected on just six of 16 attempts from the field and left too many points out on the floor for San Diego State.

Game Grade: B-

 

Winston Shepard, F, San Diego State

Shepard had the same type of performance as Thames. He did come away with 13 points; however, he only made four of 15 attempts from the field. He did come away with an impressive seven rebounds; although, the Aztecs needed a better performance from him to secure the championship.

Game Grade: B-

 

Skylar Spencer, F, San Diego State

Isaac Brekken/Associated Press

Spencer didn't contribute much from a scoring perspective, coming away with just six points on the game. However, he did manage six offensive boards and four defensive boards to finish the contest with a team-high 10 rebounds.

Game Grade: B

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