All was well at Viejas Arena on Saturday night.
Coming into the game, the No. 17/17 San Diego State basketball team knew Mountain West Conference rival and co-leader UNLV had lost to Wyoming, giving the Aztecs a shot at sole possession of first place in the conference.
The Aztecs also knew, following their game against the TCU Horned Frogs, they would get a well-deserved break before they headed to Las Vegas to take on the Runnin’ Rebels on Saturday. A week without games should do the team some good.
“We need to get our legs back a little bit,” SDSU head coach Steve Fisher said. “I think that with the stretch we had and what we’ve been doing, and the travel and everything, that it affected us physically a little bit.”
After some less-than-stellar shooting in its previous two games, SDSU shot 50.8 percent from the field in route to defeating TCU (13-9, 3-4 MWC), 83-73, in front of a sellout crowd.
TCU jumped out to an early lead before SDSU was able to overcome the deficit and take a seven-point halftime lead. SDSU outscored TCU 12-6 in the start of second half and dominated the game.
The win gave the Aztecs (20-3, 6-1 MWC) sole possession of first place in the MWC heading into the second half of conference play, and a school-record seventh consecutive season with at least 20 victories.
Sophomore guard Jamaal Franklin had a game-high 24 points and 11 rebounds, while junior guard James Rahon chipped in 16 points and junior guard Chase Tapley contributed 14 points.
The highlight of the night came with 2:31 left in the first half. Following a missed 3-point attempt by Rahon, Franklin rebounded the ball in mid-flight and threw down an authoritative reverse tip-jam. Franklin credits SDSU’s style of play as a reason for the victory.
“We were actually running the ball and we weren’t really relying on set plays,” Franklin said. “We just ran the ball, everyone contributed and we got open shots.”
Saturday’s matchup between SDSU and No. 11/13 UNLV is slated for 1 p.m. at the Thomas & Mack Center. Again, the Aztecs will go into the game with major conference regular-season championship implications as the underdog. With five days to prepare, the Aztecs should be ready for the challenge.