San Diego St.-Air Force Preview
After prevailing in a close game last time out, San Diego State has an opportunity to match the second-longest win streak in school history.
The 13th-ranked Aztecs haven't been as successful in close games at Air Force in recent seasons and will try to avoid a third straight loss there Sunday.
San Diego State nearly blew a 14-point lead in the final six minutes against visiting Boise State on Wednesday but came away with a 69-66 win, its 12th in a row. The team's two leading scorers, Xavier Thames and Winston Shepard, were the only players in double figures with 16 points apiece.
The Aztecs (13-1, 2-0 Mountain West) will next try to match the 13-game win streak from their 1955-56 squad. They won 20 in a row in 2010-11.
To move closer toward matching that school record, San Diego State will have to solve its recent struggles at Air Force (8-6, 2-1). The Aztecs have lost their last two visits by a combined five points - each time as a ranked team - and shot a combined 5 of 25 from 3-point range.
They were ranked 22nd in a 70-67 loss Feb. 2 after rallying from a double-digit deficit in the second half. San Diego State scored just one point in the final 1:43.
Thames sat out that game because of a strained lower back, and he shot 2 for 7 in a 58-56 road loss to the Falcons on Feb. 18, 2012. The then-No. 13 Aztecs led for most of that game but allowed Air Force to go on a late 9-2 run.
The Falcons are 4-80 all-time against ranked opponents.
"They are a hard team to play against, and they're a harder team to play against in a short-preparation week," coach Steve Fisher said.
Air Force enters this game having won four in a row at home and beat Utah State 73-72 in its conference opener Jan. 1, improving to 8-1 in its last nine home games in league play. The Falcons followed with a 75-68 win at UNLV three days later but fell 71-65 at Fresno State on Wednesday.
Air Force cut a late double-digit deficit to four points with 34 seconds to go but couldn't get any closer. Leading scorer Tre Coggins (17.0 points per game) had 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers for the third time in four games, and Max Yon added 20.
"This is a team capable of beating anyone they play, and they're more capable when they have you coming into their building," Fisher said. "So I would think we're a little more attentive (this time). We showed (our players) a lot of film of them against us in the last year or two, and I think it's helpful for us."
San Diego State has won nine of 11 overall matchups in the series and survived a 33.9 percent shooting performance in a 58-51 home victory March 6. The Falcons shot 33.3 percent in that game and are 2-6 this season when held below 50.0 percent.