Wyoming’s Josh Adams came to Las Vegas as the Mountain West scoring champion, but against Utah State on Wednesday, he made 4 of 17 shots.
Instead, Shane Rector scored 24 points and Chris Smith 20 as No. 9 seed Utah State opened the conference basketball tournament with an 88-70 victory over the Cowboys at the Thomas & Mack Center.
“Coming in, we were really confident and knew what we had to do to get the win,” Rector said. “And we did that tonight. We got off to a strong start, and we didn’t really let up.”
The Aggies (16-14), who play No. 1 San Diego State (23-8) at noon today, became the first team seeded ninth or worse to win a game in the Mountain West tournament.
Jason McManamen led Wyoming (14-18) with 23 points. Adams scored 18.
Colorado State 80, San Jose State 61 — Antwan Scott and Joe De Ciman each scored 17 points to lead the sixth-seeded Rams to the victory.
Colorado State (17-15) next plays No. 3 Boise State (20-11) at 8:30 p.m. today in the quarterfinals. No. 11 San Jose State finished 9-22.
The Rams took charge early, going into halftime with a 43-24 lead.
“We won this game with our two practices before we played,” Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy said. “I knew we were sitting on a win just because of how in tune we were, how focused we were. It’s a very unselfish team, but we were even more unselfish than normal. So you usually can tell, and I felt pretty comfortable. And they missed shots, but we had a lot to do with it.”
Colorado State advanced to the final of the Mountain West tournament with a 60-42 victory over New Mexico.
Elin Gustavsson had 18 points for the Rams, Keyora Wharry scored 15 and Jamie Patrick 12.
No. 22 Colorado State (29-1) has won 27 consecutive games.
The last time the Rams were in the conference championship game was 2014, when they fell to Fresno State 77-68.
New Mexico finished 17-13.
The championship game will be at noon Friday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Contact Mark Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65