San Diego State survived a pair of tough games in Las Vegas before the Christmas break and emerged with the longest win streak in school history.
The seventh-ranked Aztecs return to the court with a good chance to extend that 14-game run in their non-conference finale Friday against Division III Occidental.
The Aztecs didn’t score for the final 5:55 of their 14th straight victory, the nation’s second-longest active streak. Top-ranked Duke has won 22 in a row.
“A win is a win, and we grow from this,” said guard D.J. Gay, who has scored in double figures in seven straight games.
Gay, though, was 2 of 10 from 3-point range in the latest victory, and the Aztecs shot 21.6 percent (8 for 37) from beyond the arc in Las Vegas.
Against IUPUI, San Diego State (14-0) was outrebounded for the third straight game with a season-low 23. Kawhi Leonard, who leads the Aztecs with 15.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, had just four boards and scored seven points while missing seven of 10 shots.
San Diego State might not have the same problem getting rebounds against the Tigers (5-3), whose two tallest players are listed at 6-foot-6. The Aztecs have six players who are at least 6-7, including Leonard.
The 6-9 Malcolm Thomas finished one rebound shy of his third double-double in four games in the Dec. 22 victory for the Aztecs, who begin their Mountain West schedule Wednesday at TCU.
Occidental had a season-low 21 rebounds in its previous matchup with a Division I team, a 76-48 loss at Cal State Fullerton on Dec. 18. The Tigers bounced back with 45 in a 90-62 rout of Pacifica on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Jake Copithorne, averaging a team-best 9.5 boards, had 13 in the win, while sophomore Deshun McCoy and freshman Kris Montoya led the way in scoring once again with 20 and 19 points, respectively.
Montoya is averaging a team-best 17.1 points and McCoy adds 15.4 per game. They were the only two players to score in double figures in the loss to Cal State Fullerton.
San Diego State holds a 24-8 series lead but hasn’t faced Occidental since Dec. 12, 1953. The Aztecs were part of the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference along with Occidental from 1926-39.