The king of college basketball in California is San Diego State.
The 23rd-ranked Aztecs defeated UCLA 78-69 to win their 26th consecutive game against a team from the Golden State and ran their winning streak against Pac-12 teams to 11 in a row in the John R. Wooden Classic on Saturday night.
Jamaal Franklin scored 21 of his 28 points in the second half and the Aztecs (5-1) tied a season high with 11 3-pointers in their fifth victory in a row.
They ended an eight-game skid against the Bruins (5-3) with their first win against them since Dec. 7, 1940.
”We did a lot to earn that respect,” Franklin said about the streak against California teams that dates to Nov. 25, 2009. ”We are the best, but I’m not saying we’re the best forever. There’s a lot of good teams out there. We got to continue to move it on.”
The teams were meeting for the first time since 1991 in a game named for the late UCLA coach.
”We are appreciative of the fact that UCLA wanted to play us,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said. ”Let’s show why we’re a team they should want to play with regularity.”
Xavier Thames added 19 points, including a career-high five 3-pointers, and DeShawn Stephens had 12 points after playing just five minutes because of a hip pointer in San Diego State’s previous game against USC.
Stephens didn’t practice all week, but told Fisher he was ready to go and he started the game.
Jordan Adams scored 23 points, hitting five 3-pointers for UCLA (5-3). Shabazz Muhammad added 16 points, Norman Powell had 10 points and Larry Drew had 11 assists. The Bruins made eight 3-pointers, one off their season high of nine.
The Aztecs had strong support and noisier fans in the announced crowd of 17,204 at Honda Center.
”It was hard to play out there,” Muhammad said. ”A lot of the crowd was erupting. Their fans went out with a bang.”
The teams traded 3-pointers to start the second half, with Adams hitting three in a row to pull the Bruins into a tie at 38-all.
Thames answered with two consecutive 3’s and Franklin added another one to give the Aztecs the lead for good, 49-43.
”Jamaal played with the fearlessness but also the stability that you want,” Fisher said.
The Bruins closed to 56-53 on Muhammad’s first basket of the second half. The Aztecs outscored the Bruins 11-2, with Thames hitting their 11th 3-pointer and making two free throws in the spurt that gave San Diego State its largest lead at 67-55.
Muhammad and Adams combined to score six consecutive points and draw the Bruins to 69-64 with two minutes left. Franklin made 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:38.
UCLA was searching for a win over a ranked opponent after falling out of the Top 25 this week after a two-point upset loss to Cal Poly last weekend.
The teams played evenly throughout the first half, with the Aztecs leading 31-29 at the break.
The Bruins fell to 11-5 in the Wooden Classic, formerly a doubleheader event.