Colorado St.-San Diego St. Preview
San Diego State hasn’t lost since mid-November and is closing in on the longest winning streak in school history.
Before that, though, the No. 5 Aztecs will focus on getting a milestone victory for coach Steve Fisher on Saturday when Colorado State visits in a Mountain West Conference matchup.
Fisher was expected to record his 300th win as San Diego State coach at some point this season, but potentially reaching the milestone this quickly is a surprise. Since a nine-point loss to then-No. 6 Arizona on Nov. 14, the Aztecs have reeled off 17 consecutive wins, three shy of the school record set in 2010-11.
San Diego State (18-1, 7-0) would become one of only 18 programs to have a head coach with 300 or more wins at the current school.
"You reflect back with pride on all the players you’ve had and all the people who were involved and allowed you to have a measure of success and win games," said Fisher, in his 15th season at the school.
Although the Aztecs extended their win streak with a 74-69 victory in overtime at Utah State last Saturday, their performance wasn’t without its flaws. The national leader in opponent field-goal percentage (36.2), San Diego State had it worst effort of the season as the Aggies shot 52.7 percent.
But a sensational game from senior point guard Xavier Thames kept the Aztecs perfect in conference, and now they have an opportunity to start 8-0 in league play for the first time in the program’s 93 seasons.
Thames scored 10 of his career-high 31 points in overtime and had no turnovers in 39 minutes. In the last nine minutes of regulation and OT, he scored 16 of his team’s 29 points and assisted on all three of the Aztecs’ other field goals.
”He seems like he can’t miss any night,” teammate J.J. O’Brien said. ”He had huge plays down the stretch. He saved us. He’s been saving us. He doesn’t just score. He dishes and he plays defense. He does everything. We’re blessed to have him as a point guard.”
It was another close win for San Diego State, which has nine victories by eight points or fewer during its 17-game run.
The last matchup with Colorado State (12-9, 3-5) was no exception, as the Aztecs got 23 points from Thames in a 71-61 victory in Fort Collins on New Year’s Day. The last five meetings have been decided by 10 points or less, and the Aztecs claimed a 79-72 overtime win in the most recent matchup in San Diego on Jan. 12, 2013.
"We have a Colorado State team coming who’s lost two in a row, but they’re a tough team to play," Fisher said. "We played them Jan. 1 and it was down to the wire. We expect nothing less at our place."
The Rams, though, have lost 10 straight road games in the series since a 72-69 victory Feb. 1, 2003.
Colorado State will be trying to avoid its first three-game skid since the end of the 2010-11 season, but will have to shoot better than it has lately. The Rams have connected on only 34.5 percent from the field in the back-to-back losses while allowing opponents to shoot 45.5.
Jon Octeus scored a game-high 21 points but shot 4 of 11 from the field in Wednesday’s 76-67 loss at Nevada, and he’s 7 for 23 during the two-game skid. Leading scorer J.J. Avila (18.0 points per game) has totaled 20 points on 6-of-26 shooting in those two contests.
The Rams have lost eight straight against ranked opponents since beating No. 17 UNLV on Feb. 29, 2012.