SDSU takes advantage Davies’ suspension; White contains the ‘machine’

by Edward Lewis

Billy White guarded Jimmer Fredette for most of Saturday's game. Courtesy of Antonio Zaragoza.

LAS VEGAS — It took three tries and a huge performance from senior forward Billy White, but the San Diego State men’s basketball team finally pulled it off.

SDSU beat BYU for the first time this season and won the Mountain West Conference Tournament title for the second time in as many years.

Check out some of the news and notes from the Aztecs’ historic win.

Stopping the ‘machine’

Before Saturday afternoon’s game against BYU, senior forward Billy White was having a conversation with senior guard D.J. Gay.

“I don’t care how many points I score today,” White told Gay. “All I want to do today is stop Fredette.”

After the game, White’s mission was officially, and perhaps finally, accomplished.

BYU’s Jimmer Fredette ended the game with 30 points, but he shot just 29 percent from the floor, including just 2-for-7 from 3-point land. He also had four turnovers.

White logged 31 minutes and spent almost all of that time making sure Fredette didn’t burn his Aztecs like he had in the two previous games this season (43 points and 25 points).

“He played like a monster for us,” Gay said of White. “That’s Billy White for you. You can always count on him on the defensive end and he stepped up big on the offensive end for us today.”

White called Fredette a “machine” after the game. But he said, “If we could just contain him, we could win the game.”

And SDSU did, winning back-to-back MWC Tournament titles for the first time in school history.

Missing in the middle

When BYU last played SDSU, forward Brandon Davies was in the lineup, and consequently the Aztecs fell by 13 to the Cougars.

Saturday night, Davis was missing from BYU’s roster – suspended for violating the school’s honor code – and consequently the Aztecs won by 18.

Is the explanation for the drastic margin of victories that simple?

“Whether if he played or not would have made a huge difference, we’ll never know,” Gay said of Davies. “You could sense something a little different (Saturday night). He’s definitely a big defensive presence when he is there. He has given some of our bigs a hard time at times … You can definitely see a difference without him.”

SDSU out-rebounded BYU 41-36 and outscored BYU 40-16 in points in the paint. What’s more telling is Kawhi Leonard, White, and senior forward Malcolm Thomas – the team’s big men – combined for 50 points on 20-for-38 shooting.

“He’s a key player on that team,” White said. “We took advantage of that and crashed the boards.”

With the loss, BYU falls to 30-4 this season.

Planting the seed

There were plenty of questions for SDSU players after the game, but the one that kept popping up over and over again in every interview was: Where should the Aztecs be seeded?

The majority of the Aztecs ducked and dodged the question, saying they didn’t care where they were seeded, as long as they were dancing.

However, Gay did say, “I would hope for a No. 2 seed.”

The Aztecs are 32-2 this season and have beaten every team they’ve faced this year at least once. They will find out where their seed will be on Sunday.

Short Shots

BYU’s 54-point performance was a season-low for the team. … The Thomas & Mack Center sold out for both SDSU’s semifinal and championship games. … The 18-point win was the largest margin of victory for a championship game since 2000. … SDSU is the second team in league history to win back-to-back MWC Tournament crowns.

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