Las Vegas, NV (SportsNetwork.com) - Dwayne Polee II had 18 points and six rebounds as No. 8 San Diego State took a 59-51 win over UNLV in the semifinals of the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Xavier Thames scored 17 points with six assists for the Aztecs (29-3), who advanced to the final and will play New Mexico on Saturday.
San Diego State will be looking for its fifth conference championship, and first since beating BYU three years ago.
"We came here to win three games," said San Diego State head coach Steve Fisher. "We came here to compete like crazy. We've done that for two. We got one to go."
Deville Smith had 17 points and Bryce Dejean-Jones gave 10 for the Rebels (20-13), who were looking to get to the championship game for a second year in a row.
"Well, they did a good job defending well," said Smith. "But I just feel like our team, we should have reacted even better to their defending."
San Diego State led by just two when Smith hit a jumper four minutes into the second half to make it a 33-31 game, but Josh Davis countered with a layup and that started a 12-0 run with Polee capping the spurt on a jumper for a 45-31 lead with 10 1/2 minutes to play.
Smith's bucket was the last field goal UNLV made for almost 10 minutes before he hit a 3-point to make it a 48-37 game with 6 1/2 minutes left.
Smith and Dejean-Jones made consecutive 3s to make it a 54-48 game with just over a minute to play, but the Aztecs hit their free throws down the stretch to prevail.
UNLV raced out to a 7-0 lead, but an 8-0 run from San Diego State later in the first half gave the team the lead.
The Rebels kept the game close over the opening 20 minutes and it was a one- point game with 2 1/2 minutes left, but Aqeel Quinn hit a layup and Thames made two free throws to give the team a 29-24 lead at the break.
UNLV lost to New Mexico in the conference final last year ... UNLV shot 41.3 percent compared to 36.4 percent for San Diego State, but the Aztecs went 14- of-17 from the line while the Rebels were just 8-for-13 ... SDSU won all three games against UNLV this season, but still trail in the series, 35-24.
03/15 02:23:12 ET