Thames’ final shot defeats Trojans

by Antonio Morales

Antonio Zaragoza/Photo Editor

“Five-crack” — that’s the name of the play called in the huddle by San Diego State men’s basketball head coach Steve Fisher.

The call worked to perfection as senior forward Tim Shelton set a screen to free Xavier Thames for the game-winning layup with 1.8 seconds remaining against USC yesterday.

The game winner came after Trojan sophomore guard Maurice Jones banked in the game-tying three point shot.

SDSU, which struggled shooting throughout the night, trailed by four points at halftime. Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin scored 10 second-half points while junior forward chipped in six points of his own.

The Aztecs improved to 4-1 this season and won its 46th consecutive game against unranked teams in front of a capacity crowd of 12,414 fans.

 

Xavier exterminates the Trojans

Former SDSU point guard D.J. Gay was known for his heroics in the final moments of games last season, now Thames has added a clutch moment to his resume as an Aztec.

The sophomore said the work the team put into the game-winning play in practice helped the execution at the end.

“It was the exact play that we drew up in the huddle,” Thames said. “We work on that every day, after practice, [it’s called] five-crack.”

Thames scored 12 points and had four assists in his fifth career game as an Aztec.

Even though he has only been able to play five games for SDSU, Thames said after the game that he felt like an Aztec.

“It feels good,” he said. “It’s just a blessing to get out there and make the game-winning basket to help the team win.”

Fisher was not caught off guard by his point guard’s success on the court.

“He is smart. What he is doing with the ball does not surprise me,” Fisher said.

 

Battle on the boards

Size-wise, USC was a larger team than SDSU. Effort-wise, the Aztecs dominated on the glass.

SDSU out-rebounded the Trojans 36-26.

The rebounding effort was spearheaded by Stephens, who led the team with nine, five coming in the second half.

Fisher was quick to notice his team’s play on the boards.

“We did a really nice job on the glass,” Fisher said. “Deshawn Stephens is a young basketball guy, with limited experience, but he has a huge heart.”

 

News and notes

Junior guard James Rahon struggled against the Trojans. After Rahon made his first three-point shot of the night, he went on to miss his next nine shot attempts.

Fisher said the shots Rahon took were good, but they just weren’t falling.

“Most of his shots were good shots,” Fisher said. “If he’s got a shot, he’s got to shoot it. If he’s got a good look, then that’s about as good as we’re about to get.”

The Aztecs beat the Trojans for the first time since Dec. 9, 1989. It was the team’s second win all-time against USC.

SDSU plays Long Beach State tomorrow. The 49ers upset ninth-ranked Pittsburgh on Wednesday and gave the Aztecs trouble last year.

Fisher said LBSU might be the best team SDSU plays all season.

USC head coach Kevin O’Neill gave some praise to the Aztecs after the game.

“[SDSU is] a good basketball team,” O’Neill said. “They’re going to be an NCAA tournament team.”

 

Check out Xavier Thames’ game winning shot against USC: