LAS VEGAS – Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas each had a double-double to help No. 7 San Diego State beat Utah 64-50 in the Mountain West Conference quarterfinals Thursday night, giving the Aztecs the first 30-win season in their 90-year history.
Leonard scored 13 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for his 19th double-double before sitting out the final 7 minutes as a precaution because of a tight back. Thomas pitched in 13 points, 10 boards and eight assists for the defending tournament champions, who will face the UNLV-Air Force winner Friday night at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Aztecs (30-2), who have beaten everybody on their schedule except BYU, started out slowly against the seventh-seeded Utes (13-18) but closed the first half on a 16-3 run to take a 30-15 halftime lead.
Chase Tapley and Billy White highlighted the run with back-to-back 3-pointers sandwiched around a steal by the athletic Leonard.
With all the talk about whether the top-seeded Cougars can rediscover their mojo following the suspension of sophomore center Brandon Davies for violating the school's honor code, the Aztecs have stayed a bit in the shadows even though they're in the midst of the best season ever.
After never posting a 25-win season in the first 87 years, they've done so three straight times, and their 30 wins are four more than their previous high-water mark set two years ago.
The Utes closed to 32-23 early in the second half but the deep Aztecs responded with a dazzling display of athleticism and speed that swept them to a 46-25 lead with 11 minutes left. Coach Steve Fisher got a good look at several of his reserves the rest of the way.
Will Clyburn scored 20 points and Josh Watkins added 12 for Utah.