LAS VEGAS (AP) — Billy White put on an offensive display and bedeviled national scoring leader Jimmer Fredette in leading No. 7 San Diego State past No. 8 BYU 72-54 Saturday night for the Mountain West Conference title.
White had 21 points, 12 rebounds and five steals and Kawhi Leonard pitched in 20 points and eight boards.
Second-seeded San Diego State (32-2), whose only two losses were against the Cougars (30-4), finally figured out how to topple top-seeded BYU, which was playing its fifth game without star sophomore Brandon Davies, their best post player, who was suspended last week for violating the school's honor code.
Despite 30 points from a late-charging Fredette, the Cougars fell to 3-2 without Davies, posing an intriguing conundrum for the NCAA selection committee, although their loss to the athletic Aztecs eliminated all hope of a No. 1 seed the Cougars envisioned two weeks ago after climbing to third in the rankings.
They will likely be a No. 2 seed, but maybe they deserve top billing. They avenged their only losses of the season Saturday and they're 31-0 against all others.
Either way, the Aztecs have all the ingredients for a deep run in the NCAA tournament: a deep, experienced roster, a grizzled coach in Steve Fisher, savvy floor leadership behind D.J. Gay and star power with White, Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas running up and down the floor for rim-rattling baskets and muscle tip-ins.
Fredette, who had a career-high 52 points against New Mexico on Friday night, was 10 for 25 from the floor after sinking 22 shots against the Lobos.
White stripped Fredette twice in doing most of the work on the star guard, although Fisher sent a series of defenders at the nation's top scorer.
Although they were regular season co-champs, the Cougars swept the Aztecs, winning 71-58 in Provo, Utah, and 80-67 in San Diego. But that was with Davies.
Davies accompanied his teammates to this tournament and was decked out in a blue sweater and khaki pants Saturday night, encouraging his teammates from the end of the bench and giving tips again to Kyle Collinsworth, who replaced him in the lineup, giving the Cougars a quicker, four-guard look.
They were no match, though, for the beefier, quicker, deeper and more athletic Aztecs, who won their second straight tournament title.
And without Davies, the Cougars were outscored 38-14 in the paint.
The Aztecs took a 43-31 halftime lead when Fredette's 3-pointer at the buzzer was reviewed and disallowed, giving San Diego State a double-digit lead. Fredette had 16-first half points, not 19.
White, who drew the defensive assignment on Fredette much of the time, matched Fredette's point production in the first half, but he was much more efficient, shooting 6 of 7 to Fredette's 5 of 14.
San Diego State outscored the Cougars 17-6 over the first 10 minutes of the second half, building a 60-37 cushion with 10:57 remaining.
But the Cougars had one last run left in them, a 15-2 spurt led by Fredette, who had a breakaway basket, a long 3-pointer and a scooping layup, then fed Jackson Emery for a 3 as the Cougars pulled to 62-52 with just under 5 minutes left.
They had a chance to cut it to single digits but James Anderson, one of the seldom-used big men Cougars coach Dave Rose inserted into the lineup to counter the Aztecs' superior size, missed a jump hook, and Leonard's tip-in at the other end started a 10-2 San Diego State run to end the game.
After White followed his own miss with a basket and was fouled, he told a congratulating Leonard, "I'm hungry! I'm hungry!"
After the timeout, his bonus made it 67-52, and the Cougars' comeback hopes were dashed.
Fredette, who broke Danny Ainge's career scoring record at BYU during the tournament, now has 2,447 points, which is also a Mountain West Conference record.
Chase Tapley added 14 points and Thomas scored nine for the Aztecs, who also won tournament titles in 2002, '06 and '10.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.