A string of dominant victories has helped San Diego State to its best start in school history.
It’s had a little more difficulty putting away San Diego in the past four City Championship games.
While trying to clinch a fifth straight victory over their struggling rivals, the No. 14 Aztecs will also attempt to record their longest win streak in 55 seasons and give Steve Fisher the longest in his lengthy coaching career Saturday night at Viejas Arena.
After a couple of close games early in the season, San Diego State has hit its stride by winning its last six by an average of 17.1 points. The Aztecs (9-0) pulled away in the second half Wednesday night to post a 77-57 win at California.
“It was a good, important victory for us,” Fisher said. “We are a good team. To come in here and win the way we did I think lets a lot of people know that because we beat a good team.”
Kawhi Leonard had 20 points and D.J. Gay scored each of his 14 over the final 20 minutes. They also combined for seven of their team’s season-high 10 3-pointers.
Those performances helped give the Aztecs their longest win streak since the 1966-67 season, when they were a Division II team. They haven’t won 10 in a row since a school-record 13-game run as an NAIA program in 1955-56.
A 10-game win streak would also be the first in Fisher’s 20 seasons of coaching, which includes the past 12 with San Diego State.
“We’ve proven that we have a very good team,” Gay said. “The potential for this team is endless. We’re going to be as good as we want to be and as hard as we work. We’re just enjoying this ride and not ready for it to end.”
With San Diego State’s remaining non-conference schedule, that ride might not end any time soon. The Aztecs’ next five Division I opponents are a combined 15-25, and they face Division III Occidental on Dec. 31 in their final game before Mountain West play begins.
The Toreros, though, took San Diego State into overtime last season at home before Gay scored seven of his 22 points in a 69-62 win.
The Aztecs have won the past four meetings by an average of 6.5 points but this time will face a team that’s on its longest losing streak in eight seasons.
Since beating Occidental in its season opener, San Diego has dropped seven in a row, and its rally from a 12-point deficit in the second half fell short in a 74-70 loss to Fresno State on Tuesday night.
Junior guard Darian Norris, who leads San Diego with 11.1 points per game, was the only player in double figures with 14.
The Toreros dropped seven straight to end the 2003-04 season and had an 11-game slide during that campaign.
San Diego State leads the series 24-17 and has won four straight at home since a 55-52 loss Dec. 9, 2000.