Published January 08, 2015
San Diego, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - San Diego State couldn't stop Cameron Bairstow, so head coach Steve Fisher turned to a 1-3-1 zone.
New Mexico never had an answer after that.
Xavier Thames had 23 points and five steals and No. 10 San Diego State clinched the Mountain West regular-season title with a 51-48 victory over 21st-ranked New Mexico.
After Alex Kirk's jumper staked the Lobos to a 41-25 advantage with 12:04 left, the Aztecs (27-3, 16-2 MWC) switched to the zone and Bairstow, who had 19 points to that point, netted just one the rest of the way.
Bairstow had 26 points in New Mexico's 58-44 triumph over San Diego State on Feb. 22.
San Diego State, meanwhile, closed the game on a 26-7 run.
Dwayne Polee II, who anchored the zone, tallied four of the Aztecs' eight steals in the final 12 minutes.
The Aztecs, who won despite shooting 39.6 percent (19-of-48) from the floor and missing all nine of their 3-point attempts, closed the year with four straight wins.
Kirk finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds for New Mexico (24-6, 15-3), which had its six-game winning streak snapped.
A Josh Davis steal led to a Polee layup, which staked San Diego State to a 44-42 edge with 4:58 to go.
New Mexico countered as DeShawn Delaney knocked down a left corner triple -- the first 3-pointer for either team -- with 4:30 to play.
Neither team scored again until Thames put the Aztecs up for good after hitting a short pull-up jumper for a 46-45 SDSU lead with 2:57 remaining. J.J. O'Brien split a pair from the foul line with 38 ticks on the clock to make it 47-45 and Kendall Williams missed badly on a potential go-ahead trey with nine seconds left.
Thames then sunk two free throws to seal the outcome.
Earlier, the Aztecs opened up an 18-11 advantage, but New Mexico closed the half on a 15-2 run to take a 26-20 lead into the break.
Bairstow and Kirk poured in six points apiece during a 15-0 run to stake New Mexico to its 41-25 margin.
The Aztecs finished 15-1 at Viejas Arena this season ... Davis pulled down nine rebounds ... The Lobos shot 45.2 percent (19-of-42) from the field and 14.3 percent (2-of-14) from beyond the arc.