Not only did Billy White score and rebound, the San Diego State senior defended every inch of his home court.
A Green Valley High School product, White has grown so accustomed to winning big games at the Thomas & Mack Center, he almost feels like he owns the place.
White scored 21 points and Kawhi Leonard added 20 as No. 7 San Diego State put a convincing 72-54 beating on No. 8 Brigham Young in the Mountain West Conference tournament championship Saturday.
After the Aztecs (32-2) claimed their second straight tournament title while avenging the only team to defeat them during the regular season, White jumped on the scorer's table, took a ride atop a wave of fans and helped cut down the nets.
"It just feels good to win on my floor, just to be in my hometown with the people I love," he said. "This game was special to me, just to celebrate with my friends and family."
San Diego State earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. BYU (30-4) and UNLV (24-8) are also expected to receive at-large invitations today.
The Aztecs eliminated the Rebels 74-72 in dramatic fashion Friday night, but they made relatively easy work of the top-seeded Cougars.
The story of the tournament had been BYU shooting star Jimmer Fredette, who poured in a career-high 52 points in a semifinal victory over New Mexico.
Fredette is the nation's leading scorer. White's assignment was to make him a nonstory. The strong and long-armed 6-foot-8-inch forward hounded Fredette for about 70 percent of the game and forced him into tough shots.
"I pride myself on defense," said White, who also had 12 rebounds and five steals. "We tried to contain Jimmer. You really can't stop that guy. He's a machine. But we knew if we could just contain him, we could win the game."
Fredette finished with 30 points, but 10 came after the Cougars fell behind by 23 midway through the second half. Fredette shot 10-for-25 from the field, including 2-for-7 on 3-pointers. He made 8 of 11 free throws, and the misses were a sign of fatigue while he clocked 40 minutes for a third consecutive game. He also had four turnovers.
"(White) was very excited to play this game. He hasn't beaten us in a while," Fredette said. "He was very energized right from the beginning with offensive rebounds and playing good defense. The main thing is we just weren't shooting real well. They caused us some problems."
BYU was a 3-point underdog despite a pair of 13-point victories over San Diego State during the regular season. The Cougars had sophomore forward Brandon Davies for the first two matchups, but his absence -- he's suspended for the season -- made a difference Saturday.
The Aztecs held a 40-16 advantage in points in the paint as White, Leonard and Malcolm Thomas repeatedly scored from close range and defended the rim.
White had 16 points and six rebounds to lead San Diego State to a 43-31 halftime lead.
Fredette and Jackson Emery triggered a late BYU rally. Emery's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 62-52 with 4:58 left, briefly electrifying the sellout crowd of 18,500. But Leonard's tip-in and White's three-point play soon ended any suspense.
"I do think Billy has played his most consistent, effective, productive basketball for us, and when he does that, obviously that elevates everything else about our team," Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. "Billy is a phenomenal athlete. He never gets tired."
White was voted to the all-tournament team with San Diego State teammates Leonard and D.J. Gay, UNLV senior Tre'Von Willis and Fredette, who was named Most Valuable Player.
"I just thought (MVP) would go to the winning team," Leonard said. "But he played a great tournament. He had 52 in the semifinal game. That deserved MVP."
White said he relished the challenge of guarding Fredette. It showed throughout the game as White screamed and pumped his arms after making key plays.
"I knew I had to have a big game. I knew that I had to score or just defend, and I did both," he said.
"I'm an emotional player. I like to celebrate and stuff like that. I'm just glad to be here, just glad to live in this moment. It's an amazing year."
Contact reporter Matt Youmans at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2907.