A four-game winning streak earned San Diego State a share of the Mountain West regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament that begins Thursday in Las Vegas.
The Aztecs were two games behind New Mexico with four games left to play before going on a roll. San Diego State (24-6, 10-4) was awarded the top seed for the tournament due to the tiebreaker system.
San Diego State defeated TCU in overtime on March 3 to claim its portion of the crown.
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“It was a wonderful team victory for us without a shadow of a doubt,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. “Now we are conference co-champions and that sounds awfully good.”
The Aztecs meet eighth-seeded Boise State in Thursday’s opening round and are on the other side of the bracket from second-seeded New Mexico and third-seeded UNLV. In essence, that means San Diego State has an easier road toward reaching the title game than the league’s other two conference powers.
San Diego State has won the last two Mountain West tournament titles and winning a third consecutive one would likely provide a nice boost in seeding per the NCAA tournament.
UNLV has been forecasted as the highest-seeded NCAA team from the Mountain West for most of the season but a late-season swoon led to the Rebels finishing just third in the conference.
Among those who lifted the program after departures from last year’s squad and helped fuel the four-game win streak is sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin.
Franklin has been terrific in Mountain West play and is one of the top candidates for the league’s Player of the Year award.
Franklin has 11 double-doubles in his last 16 games after scoring a career-best 35 points and grabbing 13 rebounds against TCU.
Franklin led the Mountain West in scoring at 17.1 points and placed fourth in rebounding at 8.0. He averaged 19.5 points and 9.9 rebounds in conference play.
San Diego State is 4-0 in overtime this season and has a 14-1 mark in its last 15 overtime games.
The Aztecs are 20-2 this season when outrebounding the opponent.
San Diego State’s hot streak comes after a three-game losing streak in which they appeared to be heading in the wrong direction. The Aztecs appeared dangerously close to playing itself onto the NCAA bubble before getting things turned around.
Sharing the conference title will be long-remembered by the program, which was projected to be entering a down period after losing four starters off last season’s school-best 34-3 squad.