SDSU, Wisconsin Survive Upset Bids in Tucson

by March 19, 2011

by David Cassilo / @dcassilo

The upset by Butler wasn’t the only thriller on Saturday. Not long before the Bulldogs gave the NCAA tournament its biggest upset, San Diego State survived Temple in double-overtime, 71-64.

Temple was able to get the Aztecs to play at a much slower pace than they were used, holding them to just 18 points in the second half. The Owls scored the final five points to end regulation and force overtime.

In the first extra session, San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard awoke after scoring just six points in regulation. The sophomore scored the first four Aztec points to keep his team in the game. After a Malcolm Thomas free throw to tie the game at 61 with close to two minutes remaining, neither team scored again and they headed to a second overtime.

During those final five minutes, Leonard scored another six points and the Aztecs were able to pull away and win by seven.

While others might be shocked to see San Diego State in the Sweet 16, it is no surprise to its coach.

From the Arizona Republic:

“We’ve got a good team; we find different ways to win,” San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. “We did that again tonight.”

Fisher has been telling everyone this all week, as if not everyone is convinced. His message: You don’t win this many games by accident. He’s right, the Aztecs are good. But they’re a different type of good. They’ll never shoot anyone out of the gym. At times, their best offensive play is simply to miss and get the rebound.

After never winning an NCAA tournament game before this season, the Aztecs now have two under their belt. Their first ever trip to the Sweet 16 will be a date with Connecticut.

A few hours later on the same court, Kansas State, the last team before San Diego State to win a double-overtime game in the NCAA tournament, could not advance to its second straight Sweet 16 as it fell to Wisconsin, 70-65.

The Badgers survived a monster performance from the Wildcats’ Jacob Pullen. The senior guard scored 38 points and set the Kansas State career-scoring record in the process. However, he missed a crucial free throw late in the game that could have tied the score for the Wildcats.

Pullen had one last chance to tie the game on a 3-pointer but his shot was blocked by Jordan Taylor. The defensive play made up for a disastorous offensive performance for Taylor, who shot just 2-for-16 from the field. Taylor did, however, dish out six assists on the evening, several of which went to Jon Leuer, who led all Badgers with 19 points.

Wisconsin now advances to the Southeast regional where it will face Butler for a chance to go to the Elite Eight.