Basketball is a game of ups and downs, and Saturday’s game certainly confirmed that.
With 14:46 left in the game, the No. 21 San Diego State men’s basketball team held an 18-point lead. By the end of regulation, the score was tied. Five minutes of overtime play would decide what seeding the Aztecs received in the Mountain West Conference Tournament beginning Thursday, and if any share of the regular-season title belonged to them.
Led by sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin’s career-high 35 points and 13 rebounds, SDSU (24-6, 10-4 MW) escaped Fort Worth, Texas with a 98-92 overtime win against TCU to win a share of the conference regular-season title.
“Now we are conference co-champions, and that sounds awfully good,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said.
The most important play of the game came with only 21 seconds left in regulation. The Aztecs trailed by three points when senior forward Tim Shelton grabbed the rebound off of a Franklin 3-point attempt and was fouled on the putback. Shelton would hit the free throw to tie up the game and send it into overtime.
“To our team’s credit, they stayed in there, and I think it was fitting that Tim Shelton is the guy who made the play to get an and-one to put it into overtime,” Fisher said. “He is such a warrior and such a guy; it was great to see him make that play.”
Sophomore guard Xavier Thames scored 16 points to go along with junior guard Chase Tapley’s 18 points.
Hank Thorns’ 25 points and J.R. Cadot’s 24 points led the Horned Frogs (17-13, 7-7 MW) in scoring.
This is the Aztecs’ second consecutive MW regular-season title, a title they share with the University of New Mexico, which beat Boise State at home earlier on Saturday.
By virtue of a season sweep of TCU, based on tiebreaker rules, SDSU goes into the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas as the No. 1 seed. The Aztecs are the two-time defending tournament champions.
SDSU’s first game in the tournament will be at noon on Thursday against No. 8 seeded Boise State.