No. 7 SDSU Stays Hot, Tops Occidental, 93-50
Dec. 31, 2010
SAN DIEGO (AP) - Steve Fisher would have preferred a little tougher opponent as a final tuneup for Mountain West Conference play.
Instead, the only team available to plug the final gap in San Diego State's schedule was Division III Occidental, which has no players taller than 6-foot-6 and started two sophomores and a freshman.
The result was predictable.
The Aztecs improved to 15-0 for the first time in school history. Their 15-game winning streak is the longest in school history and is second nationally to No. 1 Duke's 22-game run. San Diego State is one of seven undefeated teams left in Division I.
The net result, besides an incredibly easy win, was that everybody got to play double-digit minutes, including some subs who might not get that much time the entire rest of the season.
"It was well-documented we've had a difficult time filling the final schedule," Fisher said. "This was what we did. This was the last game we got on the schedule. This was good for camaraderie. This was good for eight through 12. This was good for our team.
"I think you've got to say, 'OK, here's what we've got, now how can we make it be good for us?' I think we did that."
The 43-point victory margin tied for 10th-largest in school history.
Garbage time came not long after halftime and the Aztecs used it well. They shot 21 of 24 (87.5 percent) in the second half. Overall, they outrebounded the Tigers 42-13.
James Rahon tied his season-high with 15 points for the Aztecs and Malcolm Thomas had 14 points and nine rebounds. Forward Billy White sat out after spraining his right ankle in practice on Wednesday. He was replaced by Brian Carlwell, who scored seven points.
Leonard, a sophomore forward, had his ninth double-double of the season and 26th of his career.
Deshun McCoy scored 18 points and Jack Hanley added 10 for Occidental (5-4).
"We didn't shock the world," Occidental coach Brian Newell said. "We weren't Chaminade, we weren't Hoosiers. They are very athletic, they're very skilled. They are a very good team."
If SDSU holds opponents under 50 points, fans get free curly fries from a fast-food restaurant with their ticket stubs.
Newell put Hanley and McCoy back in with 2:07 left and SDSU leading 91-45.
Hanley hit a 3-pointer with 1:15 left to make it 93-50, denying the fans.
"You have to look for little things," Newell said. "I didn't know that curly fries were at stake until they told me. That was a moral victory."
SDSU cruised to a 42-24 halftime lead and continued to pour it on. The Aztecs used an 11-0 run to push their lead to more than 30 points. Rahon hit a 3-pointer and Leonard and Thomas both made two shots to run the lead to 68-33. One of Leonard's shots was a baseline reverse layup, and Thomas followed that with a slam dunk.
The Aztecs later had a 13-0 run, after the reserves had taken over.
"I've been in enough of these to know we are getting about their C-plus interest level game," Newell said. "And I'm glad. I'm happy with how we played. We took care of the ball and it was a good game for us to learn."
The Aztecs open Mountain West Conference play at TCU on Wednesday night. Fisher gave his players five days off after they had close victories over San Francisco and IUPUI on Dec. 21-22 in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
"It was great to finish 2010 15-0," Fisher said.
But, he added that the Aztecs need to guard better, rebound better and commit fewer turnovers.
"I think we're playing good basketball," Fisher said. "If we'd played 15 straight league games, we wouldn't be 15-0, the way we're playing. If we're going to go undefeated in the league, we're going to have to play better. And I don't know if anybody's going undefeated in the league, and probably no one will."