On Tuesday night, No. 13 San Diego State welcomed San Jose State to Viejas Arena for their first time as a member of the Mountain West Conference. It was a lot like the spider asking the fly to come into its web as the Aztecs smothered the Spartans 90-64. In the first half alone, the Aztecs had 11 steals, three blocks and forced 14 turnovers by the Spartans.
The win increased San Diego State's winning streak against California schools to 40 games, which is the longest current streak by any team in any state. It also keeps them tied with New Mexico for first place in the Mountain West. The 90 points scored by the Aztecs is their highest total against any of their Division I opponents this season.
It was an overpowering display of team defense and balanced scoring on offense that restored order on Montezuma Mesa after the disappointing loss at New Mexico on Saturday. Winston Shepard, Dwayne Polee II and J.J. O'Brien each scored 12 points. Shepard also led the team with six rebounds and five assists.
This does mark the fifth game in a row in which Xavier Thames did not lead the Aztecs in scoring. Thames finished with eight points, five assists and three steals.
Polee was a spark off the bench, doing a bit of everything. He nailed a three-pointer, slammed home a dunk, made two assists, grabbed four rebounds, had two steals and went three-for-three from the free throw line.
The Aztecs shot nearly 50% from the field even though they were under 30% on three pointers. They held the Spartans to 37.7% field goal shooting. San Diego State also got back to volume free throw shooting, making more free throws than San Jose State attempted.
Initially the Spartans looked to make a game of it by starting off 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and took an early 9-6 lead. San Diego State went on a 7-0 run and never looked back. A few minutes later the Aztecs went on another 7-0 and by the time the first half was over the lead was 44-30. Devante Wilson had nine first half points to lead the Spartans but was held scoreless in the second half.
Following the first television timeout of the second half, the Aztecs went on a 14-0 run and led 67-38 with 10:41 remaining. From there, both teams continued to play hard but the outcome was inevitable. The Aztecs cleared the bench and played 15 players. The Spartans only suited up 10 players, and they all played. Wilson fouled out while two other players for San Jose State had four fouls.
Next up the Aztecs travel to Fresno State on Saturday as they take on the Bulldogs at 7 pm PST. Fresno State has emerged as one of the most improved teams in conference, winning six of their last seven games.