SAN DIEGO (AP) – San Diego State will be smarting for some time from its big loss at New Mexico, well aware that it has one more regular-season game against the Lobos and most likely another showdown in the Mountain West Conference tournament, as well.
The 13th-ranked Aztecs (23-3, 12-2) are trying to focus on Tuesday night’s home game against last-place San Jose State (7-19, 1-13) after Saturday night’s 58-44 loss to the Lobos dropped them into a share of the MWC lead with New Mexico.
”They grabbed us by the throat and didn’t let go from start to finish,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher said.
Guard Xavier Thames, who leads the Aztecs with 16.8 points per game, had an off night with only seven.
”The New Mexico game was not one anybody who has an ounce of favoritism for the Aztecs wanted to see,” Fisher said. ”But it happened. We went in and got beat, beat soundly by a very good team who on that given night definitely was the better team. We don’t like the feeling; it did happen. We witnessed it, live and up front. We’ve been a program that said before, live but don’t forget. You’ve got to move forward and you’ve got to move forward quickly.”
San Jose State is coming off its only league win, a 66-64 victory at Nevada last Tuesday. Jalen James hit a jumper with a second remaining as the Spartans snapped a 13-game losing streak.
SDSU beat the Spartans 75-50 at San Jose on Jan. 22 behind Thames’ 15 points. It was the teams’ first meeting as MWC members since San Jose State left the Western Athletic Conference after last season.
”We need to get ourselves a victory and feel good about ourselves after a victory,” Fisher said. ”We’re pretty healthy. No excuses for what happened, and determined that we’ll win tomorrow.”
The Aztecs were done in Saturday night by allowing the Lobos to go on a 21-2 run in the second half. Additionally, SDSU, which has made more free throws than its opponents have taken, went to the line only three times, missing all three.
”Their size kept us from getting to the rim,” Fisher said. ”I’ve always been an advocate, you adjust to the flow of the game. And the flow of that game was, no harm no foul. We shot three free throws for the game, they shot six. So they didn’t call anything. You have to be able to adjust. Part of our MO is getting to the line 30 times. We got there three and didn’t make any of the three.”
It was the Aztecs’ second straight road loss, but they’ve won 12 in a row at home. This will be the Spartans’ first visit to San Diego State since falling 75-72 on Feb. 27, 1999.
”The main thing we learned is that we can’t come out and play the way that we played and expect to win,” forward JJ O’Brien said. ”We’ve obviously got to pick up our focus on defense and offense both. We’ve got to be mentally better there, got to take better shots. We’ve got to play better overall. We can’t play bad and expect to win.”