The game couldn’t have started off any worse for San Diego State.
Just 2:36 into the contest, the No. 16 Aztecs trailed the University of New Mexico Lobos 10-0. To make matters worse, it wasn’t until the 15:24 mark that SDSU was finally able to get on the scoreboard.
Yet the early deficit in “The Pit,” one of the nation’s toughest college basketball venues, was not enough to stop the red-hot Aztecs (16-2, 2-0 MW) from pulling out the hard-fought victory, 75-70.
“I could never ever have been more proud of a team,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “I had the white towel ready to throw it in when we were behind 10 to nothing.”
Sophomore point guard Xavier Thames scored a career-high 22 points, while sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin and junior guard Chase Tapley each contributed 12 points.
Sophomore guard LaBradford Franklin turned in his best performance of the season off the bench for the Aztecs, scoring nine points and grabbing three rebounds in just 13 minutes of action.
“When he came in, he was sensational for us on both ends of the floor,” Fisher said.
The Lobos (15-3, 1-1 MW), having won 13 straight coming into the game, started the scoring binge early in the game with a monster dunk from senior forward Drew Gordon off the alley-oop pass from sophomore guard Kendall Williams. After New Mexico quickly built a 10-point lead, the Aztecs clawed their way back with a 12-2 run to tie the game at 12.
SDSU took its first lead of the game, 28-27, on a Tapley three-pointer with 2:41 left in the first half. The Aztecs headed into the locker room at halftime trailing 31-30.
In the second half, SDSU took control of the game with a 15-0 run that gave them a lead they would never relinquish.