LAS VEGAS (AP) — Devin Watson scored 20 points to lead San Diego State to a 90-73 blowout victory over No. 22 Nevada on Friday night in the Mountain West Conference semifinals.
The Aztecs, who haven’t won a tournament championship since 2011, will play in the title game for the fourth time in five years, and eighth time in 10 seasons.
Jalen McDaniels had his ninth double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds.
San Diego State, which trailed for only 42 seconds in the game, faces the winner of Friday’s late semifinal between New Mexico and Utah State.
The Wolf Pack was led by Jordan Caroline, who scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds before fouling out. Caleb Martin added 13 for Nevada, while Elijah Cooke had 10.
Nevada opened the game with a 3-pointer from Jordan Caroline. From there it was all San Diego State, which ending up shooting 61.3 percent (19 of 31) in the first half, including 7 of 15 (46.7) from 3-point range. The Aztecs converted eight Nevada turnovers into 14 points, while they outscored the Wolf Pack 14-3 with second-chance points.
And as the Aztecs were scorching the nets at one end, Nevada struggled to find its groove at the other, hitting just 10 of 26 (38.5 percent) from the floor, and shooting a bleak 27.3 percent (3 of 11) from long range. San Diego State’s 55 points in the first half set a Mountain West tournament record.
Another glaring difference early on, the Aztecs went to the free throw line 12 times, and hit 10, while Nevada split four free throws from the charity stripe over the first 20 minutes. The Aztecs finished the game 26 of 34 from the free throw line, while Nevada went 12-for-17.
San Diego State: The Aztecs continued their domination in the league’s postseason event, as they own the highest winning percentage in Mountain West tournament history. With its victory Friday night, San Diego State improved to 29-14 (.674).
Nevada: The Wolf Pack reserves came into the game averaging 17.6 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. Friday night, Nevada’s bench scored 14 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.
San Diego State: Earns the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Nevada: Despite the loss, expect the Wolf Pick to receive an at-large bid into the Big Dance.