LAS VEGAS (AP)Keshad Johnson and Darrion Trammell each scored 15 points and No. 20 San Diego State beat San Jose State 64-49 in the Mountain West Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday night.
The top-seeded Aztecs (26-6) advanced to the championship game for the sixth consecutive year. They will face the winner of the late semifinal between Utah State and Boise State.
The Aztecs shot 40.7% from the floor, hitting 22 of 54, including 6 of 16 from 3-point range.
“We’re just a team that got a great chemistry,” said Johnson, who made 6 of 7 shots. “And it’s March so we all know where each other going to be at, and that’s just shown on the court.”
Trammell bounced back after missing all five of his shots in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Colorado State.
“My teammates and my coaches, they’ve been telling me just keep shooting, just keep going, keep going,” Trammell said. “They put the ultimate trust in me, so I appreciate that from them.”
Tibet Gorener scored 15 points for San Jose State (20-13).
The Aztecs held the Spartans to 19 of 55 shooting (34.5%), including 5 of 19 from 3-point range (26.3%). It was San Jose State’s fourth-worst shooting performance of the season.
“All these guys will tell you when they come to San Diego State they’re told, ‘You defend at a high level. If you don’t like playing defense, don’t come to this program, and then we’ll let you play with great freedom offensively,’” San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. “So we play hard on defense, and that’s why we’ve always had the success we’ve had. We defend and we rebound. Then we play with great freedom on offense, and we make enough shots to win games.”
In two meetings this season, San Diego State held the Spartans to an average of 50 points on 34.6% shooting.
“San Diego State is elite defensively,” San Jose State coach Tim Miles said. “We just weren’t at our best but they’re a big reason for that. They’re strong all across the board. Then they’re together. They really work hard together. They’re connected defensively especially.”
After briefly falling behind by one early in the game, the Aztecs erupted for an 18-4 run to take a 25-12 lead with 2:59 left in the first half and weren’t threatened from there.
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS
San Diego State won its 44th game at the Thomas & Mack Center since the start of the 2008-09 season, the most victories by any team in the country in any venue in which it has not played a home game.
The Spartans enjoyed their first 20-win season since the 1980-81 campaign, including the program’s first-ever tournament victory in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
“We’re not done yet, we’re going to be in a postseason tournament,” Miles said.
San Jose State: Leading scorer Omari Moore, who came in averaging 17.8 points per game on 43.2% shooting, finished with seven points on 3-of-13 shooting.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are 41-17 all-time in the Mountain West tournament, with the most tournament wins by any team in league history.
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