San Diego State junior point guard Xavier Thames has seen his averages drop a little when compared to last season’s numbers, but there’s been a very good reason for that. Thames injured his back in practice three weeks ago and reaggravated the injury a couple days later in the Aztecs’ 72-57 win over Cal State Bakersfield on January 2.
He would play just 14 minutes in that game, and since then it’s been a bit of a struggle for him. In an 82-75 loss to UNLV on Wednesday night Thames accounted for just two rebounds and a turnover on 25 minutes of action in the defeat, and in practice the following day Thames tweaked his back again.
As a result Thames is questionable for San Diego State’s game at Wyoming on Saturday, and if he can’t go that would be an big loss for Steve Fisher’s team. On the season Wyoming is forcing opponents to turn the ball over 15.2 times per game, a number that ranks fourth in the Mountain West.
In San Diego State’s three Mountain West games since the win over Cal State Bakersfield Thames has played in two, sitting out the win at Fresno State due to the back problem and scoring 14 points (3-of-11 FG) and dishing out two assists in a 79-72 overtime victory over Colorado State in advance of their loss to UNLV.
Fisher played him only eight minutes in the second half [against UNLV] and not at all over the final 5:53, opting to go with freshman Winston Shepard at the point.
“In watching the tape, he was not moving, especially at the defensive end, the way he’s accustomed to moving,” Fisher said. “I’m concerned about it. I’m concerned that we not only have him but have him at peak efficiency.”
On the season Thames is averaging 9.8 points and 2.6 assists per game, with the assist average being 1.5 assists per game fewer than his average last season (4.1). If he’s unable to go freshman Winston Shepard will see more time at the point. On Wednesday night Shepard played his best game of the season, finishing with 18 points (4-of-9 FG, 10-of-12 FT), five rebounds and five assists.
Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.