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Blog: The Mountain West’s semifinals to include the four teams everyone expected to be there

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New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, center, waves a towel to cheer on his teammates during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against New Mexico in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

Updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 | 11:07 p.m.

MWC Tournament: New Mexico vs. Fresno State

Fresno State's Paul Watson (22) shoots over the New Mexico defense during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Mountain West Conference tournament, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken) Launch slideshow »

MWC Tournament: San Diego State vs. Utah State

San Diego State guard Xavier Thames drives to the basket past Utah State guard Danny Berger during their Mountain West Conference tournament game Thursday, March 13, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. Launch slideshow »

This is how the Mountain West basketball season was supposed to play out.

The top four teams from the preseason predictions all won tournament quarterfinal games today at the Thomas & Mack Center, setting up a semifinal round league experts anticipated back in the fall.

Boise State took sixth in the league during the regular season, but upset third-seeded UNR 75-62 in today’s last quarterfinal game for the final semifinal spot. Boise State at 8:30 p.m. Friday will take on No. 2 seed New Mexico, which made quick work of Fresno State in the quarterfinals for a 93-77 win.

The first semifinal will feature hometown UNLV trying to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive against top-seeded San Diego State. San Diego State’s 34-point win against Utah State today was the largest margin of victory in the tournament’s 15-year history. UNLV hung on against Wyoming, 71-67.

Talk with everyone tomorrow. Thanks for staying with us all day — it’s been four games and nearly 12 hours of basketball. And we are just getting started.

New Mexico shoots 57 percent, overwhelms Fresno State in quarters

Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk each scored 21 points for New Mexico, which received little push-back from Fresno State in a 93-77 victory in the Mountain West quarterfinals.

The Lobos, which went to the free throw line 38 times, join San Diego State and UNLV in Friday’s semifinals. UNR plays Boise State in the nightcap for the final spot.

It was Bairstow’s 20th game of 20 or more points this season, helping New Mexico to a strong offensive performance. It scored 49 first-half points, shot 57 percent and out-rebounded Fresno State 40-25.

Kendall Williams added 17 points for New Mexico.

UNLV hangs on against Wyoming, will face San Diego State in semifinals

A double-digit lead with less than 2 minutes remaining quickly shrunk to one yet UNLV was able to withstand Wyoming's comeback and advance to Friday's semifinals with a 71-67 victory. The Rebels will play No. 1 seed San Diego State at 6 p.m.

Bryce Dejean-Jones led UNLV with 22 points while Roscoe Smith was the biggest reason the Rebels hung in the game early, finishing with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Wyoming's Josh Adams carved up UNLV in the first half with 18 points but scored only six in the second half as Jerron Granberry and Nathan Sobey picked up the scoring with 18 points each. Only four Wyoming players scored.

The Cowboys were able to come back because UNLV missed a ton of free throws. After leading by 11, the Rebels missed five of eight while Wyoming got its offense going again. Sobey did most of his damage in the final minutes.

Deville Smith finished with 15 points while other Rebels who had been playing well lately really struggled. Jelan Kendrick, Christian Wood and Daquan Cook combined to shoot 2-for-14.

The Rebels scored only seven points in the first 10 minutes, struggling at the beginning and end of this game. The performance certainly doesn't inspire much confidence in the Rebels' chances against San Diego State on Friday, but the most important thing is that UNLV survived to play that game.

 

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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