San Diego survived a scare to extend the best start in school history. Their next opponent gave them a bit of a scare only a month ago.
The seventh-ranked Aztecs attempt to improve to 14-0 on Wednesday when they face IUPUI at a neutral site for the second time this season at the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic.
San Diego State (13-0) is off to its best start and holds its highest ranking ever. The run nearly ended Tuesday, when the Aztecs held off San Francisco 62-56 in their first of two games in Las Vegas.
Their winning streak, second-longest in the nation behind top-ranked Duke’s 21-game run, has a good chance to extend into 2011. After facing the Jaguars (5-7), San Diego State hosts Division III Occidental on Dec. 31. The Aztecs begin Mountain West play at TCU on Jan. 5.
However, they shouldn’t necessarily take IUPUI lightly. San Diego State trailed the Jaguars early in the second half Nov. 21 at the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic in Oxford, Ohio, but used a 15-0 run to pull away for an eventual 61-46 victory. Kawhi Leonard led the Aztecs with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
The sophomore forward had an even better game Tuesday, notching his eighth double-double of the season with 23 points and 14 boards. His effort helped San Diego State overcome an otherwise lackluster performance as it never could break open a game against a seemingly inferior opponent in the Dons.
“You can’t go into the league and have games like this. It’s something that definitely needs to change,” said senior guard D.J. Gay, who had 14 points Tuesday. “The only positive from this game is the win.”
IUPUI has lost three of four including an 81-54 loss at Duquesne on Saturday.
A bright spot in the defeat was freshman guard P.J. Hubert, who made 5 of 6 3-point attempts off the bench for 15 points in his college debut.
“I like what P.J. gave us in his first game and he’s really going to be a factor for us,” coach Ron Hunter said. “He was one of the best shooters in the state last year and that’s why we brought him in. Now, we need to figure out how to blend him in with the guys we’ve already got. Aside from him, we were flat out bad.”
Alex Young, the team leader with 17.3 points per game, is looking to rebound from a rough performance. He shot 5 of 16 - including 0 for 4 from 3-point range - and finished with 12 points against the Dukes. The junior forward wasn’t much better against the Aztecs last month, scoring 12 while connecting on 4 of 11 shots.