While he might have wanted better starts to some games this season, San Diego State coach Steve Fisher is probably pleased with how his team has finished off most of its victories.
A string of strong second-half performances has aided the No. 11 Aztecs during the best start in school history, which they’ll try to add to Monday night against visiting Cal Poly.
San Diego State trailed by seven late in the first half Saturday night against San Diego but outscored its rivals 43-21 over the final 20 minutes of a 77-49 rout. Malcolm Thomas scored a season-high 20 points in the win, and Kawhi Leonard recorded his seventh double-double this season with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Aztecs (10-0) have outscored opponents by 13 or more points in the second half in each of the last three games, averaging 46.0 points, and seven times overall.
“That’s kind of been the story of our season lately, whether we get off to a slow start or a fast start, the second half has been our powerhouse,” guard D.J. Gay said. “Usually, most of our runs come in the second half. The second half seems to be our half.”
The Aztecs’ win streak is their longest since the 1955-56 season, when they won a school-record 13 in a row as an NAIA program. They’ve also won 20 straight over unranked opponents at Viejas Arena, where they’ve experienced three consecutive sellouts after having eight prior to this season.
They’ll try to earn another win there against a Cal Poly team that’s averaged 55.6 points since a season-opening victory at Seattle. The Mustangs (3-5) have also dropped four consecutive road games, including the first two of a season-long five-game road trip.
Their rally from a 17-point deficit fell short in Saturday night’s 72-61 loss to UCLA. Junior forward David Hanson, who is averaging a team-best 15.8 points, scored 18.
Senior guard Shawn Lewis is the only other Cal Poly player averaging in double figures this season (13.5 ppg).
San Diego State leads the series 34-16, but is facing Cal Poly for the first time since a 90-71 home victory on Dec. 18, 2003.
That game was the first at home against the Mustangs since the 1968-69 season, when the schools were members of the Division II California Collegiate Athletic Association.
The Aztecs have won 10 in a row at home over their former conference rivals and 22 of 26 all-time in San Diego.