San Diego State survived a scare its last time out. There’s a good chance things could go easier in its next contest.
The seventh-ranked Aztecs begin the second half of the Mountain West season looking to continue their recent run of success over visiting TCU on Saturday night.
Senior D.J. Gay’s 18-foot fadeaway jumper over two defenders with 1.8 seconds left helped San Diego State (22-1, 7-1) escape with a 56-54 win at Colorado State on Wednesday.
“You take a deep breath and feel good that you walked out of here with a victory,” Aztecs coach Steve Fisher told the school’s official website.
San Diego State has won two in a row since losing 71-58 at No. 8 BYU on Jan. 26. The teams are tied atop the Mountain West standings heading into the second pass of the conference schedule.
The Aztecs opened league play with a 66-53 win at TCU (10-13, 1-7) on Jan. 5. San Diego State had four dunks and five steals during a game-turning 3-minute run soon after halftime en route to a fifth straight victory over the Horned Frogs.
Losers in 10 of 11 overall to the Aztecs, TCU has averaged 58.2 points and shot 41.3 percent while dropping five straight games at San Diego State since a 105-61 win there Jan. 17, 1998.
Malcolm Thomas had 18 points with 10 rebounds and leading scorer Kawhi Leonard added 14 with 11 boards against the Horned Frogs last month.
Leonard (15.2 points, 10.5 rebounds per game) had just 12 points but pulled down 15 boards for his 32nd double-double versus Colorado State.
Gay (12.0 ppg) was limited to six points in that contest, but showed his senior leadership by hitting the game-winner to prevent the upset in Fort Collins, Colo.
“We have some pros on this team and we all know our role,” Gay said. “When the game’s on the line, I do want the ball in my hands to make a play. But if somebody’s open, I’m obviously going to give it up.”
As San Diego State tries for its 33rd consecutive victory over an unranked opponent, TCU looks to avoid an eighth straight road loss overall.
On the road, the Horned Frogs are second-to-last in the MWC in scoring (61.9 ppg) and tied for last in field-goal percentage (39.4).
TCU dropped its fifth straight overall, 66-65 in overtime at home to Air Force last Saturday.
“We have to make plays to win games,” TCU coach Jim Christian told the school’s official website.
Guard Ronnie Moss averages a team-leading 15.7 points but was held to 10 on 4-of-12 shooting in that contest.
The junior has totaled 16 points and gone 6 of 19 from the field in two games at San Diego State.
The Horned Frogs have lost 11 in a row against Top 25 opponents since a 71-66 victory over then-No. 14 Air Force on Feb. 24, 2007.