March Madness 2014: San Diego State not taking North Dakota State lightly

The fourth-seeded San Diego State Aztecs will face 12th-seeded North Dakota State in the third round of the NCAA tournament in Spokane, Wash. Tip time for the game is slated for Saturday at 3:10 PM with television coverage on TNT.

San Diego State are in the third round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season after a 73-69 overtime victory over 13th-seeded New Mexico State on Thursday. The Aztecs had a 14-point lead going into the second half, but the Aggies’ offense began to dial in.

San Diego State committed 7 turnovers and missed 16 shots, allowing New Mexico State to capitalize on each missed opportunity. The Aggies’ Sim Bhullar and Daniel Mullings had a combined 32 points before Bhullar fouled out with 3:21 left. With the Aztecs up 60-57 with 0:09 on the clock, Aggies’ Kevin Aronis makes the three to force overtime. 

This was the fourth game resulting in overtime Thursday night, which set a new record for one NCAA tournament day, according to STATS. In OT, Xavier Thames and Dwayne Polee each scored five points to help lift the Aztecs to their eighth-straight overtime victory.            

Then in a post game interview, San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher spoke up publicly on an issue he had with the NCAA process. 

Even though the Aztecs didn’t have to go home Thursday night, Fisher was still upset New Mexico State had to though and right away.

“We were told that we would go home tomorrow if we lost. That was what we requested. We don’t want to go home tonight. It’s 10 minutes after 11 (PM). The time you get back to the hotel, did they want us to tell our kids “pack your bags and if we win we’ll go back?”

“It’s 10 after 11. New Mexico State has to do this. They didn’t want to go home either, but they have to go home tonight. It’s disgraceful.” 

“For the billions of dollars that we have here, for them not to find a way to accommodate these kids – the student athletes – you can’t tell me they couldn’t find charter planes…and that’s what they told me.”

Despite the charter flight fiasco, San Diego State will certainly not want to go home Saturday. A win over 12th-seeded North Dakota State would send them to their second Sweet 16 in school history. 

North Dakota State leads the nation in field goal percentage (50.9) and shot 52.9 percent from the floor against the fifth-seeded Oklahoma Sooners, winning 80-75 in overtime. Bison guard Lawrence Alexander put up a career-high 28 points. The team has other weapons as well. Summit League player of the year and tournament MVP, Taylor Braun averaging 18 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game, and 6-foot-8 forward Marshall Bjorklund with 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game. 

San Diego State watched North Dakota State’s first NCAA tournament win and saw what they are capable of. And for that, they aren’t taking them lightly. 

Xavier Thames: “We can’t take anybody lightly, North Dakota State is a great team. We watched mostly the whole second half of their game against a good Oklahoma team in the Big 12. So, it’s going to be a great game and it’s going to be fun.” 

Winston Shepard: “In my eyes it’s like last year all over again. We beat a good team in the first round, had a tough game, and we are playing a team that not a lot of people have heard of, but if you look at the stats, they’re a great team. So, nobody in our locker room is taking them lightly and we definitely learned a lesson from last year.” 

Photo by Stephen Dunn, Getty Images Sport. 

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Laramee Bishop

Laramee Bishop is a sports journalist hailing from San Diego. She currently works as a producer and editor at NFL Network in Los Angeles. Her previous line of work includes: U-T San Diego, U-T TV, Quiksilver, and TransWorld Media.


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