San Diego St.-IUPUI Preview
After an impressive win earlier in the week, San Diego State survived a scare in its last game. Sunday's contest shouldn't be as difficult.
Playing their second game in as many days, the 25th-ranked Aztecs will look to get off to a better start when they face IUPUI at the CBE Classic in Oxford, Ohio.
San Diego State (3-0), which upset No. 11 Gonzaga 79-76 on Tuesday, fell behind Wisconsin-Green Bay 28-6 in the first half Saturday night. The Aztecs ultimately recovered, holding the Phoenix scoreless for a span of 8:04 en route to a 79-70 victory and their largest comeback of coach Steve Fisher's 12-year tenure.
"At one point, I leaned over to my son, (assistant coach) Mark, and said, 'Do you think we'll score 10 points this half?'" Fisher said. "They were beating us every way, and we helped set the tone by missing every layup and free throw.
"We were able to come back by making them take harder shots and getting them out of their rhythm offensively."
The Aztecs shot a season-best 60.4 percent from the field despite an 0-for-7 effort from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, averaging a team-high 20.7 points, finished with a season-high 23.
"We were thinking we have to come back right now," said Leonard, who also pulled down 10 rebounds for his second double-double of the season. "We had to get some stops defensively. We had to think all defense all the time. Everything was going in for them. We knew we had to contest shots. We didn't come out with any energy. Our mental focus wasn't there.
"Maybe the flight and the three-hour (time) change got into us."
Though difficult, Saturday's win was the 13th straight for the Aztecs against unranked opponents. They'll aim to extend that streak against the Jaguars (1-2), who have also visited Gonzaga this season - with a far different result. IUPUI lost 86-56 to Gonzaga in its Nov. 14 season opener.
The Jaguars did nearly upset a ranked opponent in the not-too-distant past, taking then-No. 20 Arizona State to overtime before falling 59-58 on Dec. 14, 2008.
IUPUI lost to Miami of Ohio by that identical 59-58 score Saturday night despite 23 points from junior forward Alex Young, the team's leading scorer.
The Jaguars, who had the second-highest field-goal percentage in the country at 50.4 percent last season, shot 39.2 percent from the floor against the RedHawks.
San Diego State is 3-0 for the first time since opening with five consecutive victories in 2007-08.