Texas Southern-San Diego St. Preview

The Associated Press

San Diego State unofficially conquered the state of California, leaning on an elite scoring guard and its impressive defense.

The Aztecs now get the chance to host an out-of-towner.

No. 17 San Diego State will go for its 35th win against a non-conference opponent at home in 36 tries on Monday night when it hosts Texas Southern to open a four-game run at Viejas Arena.

The Aztecs (5-1) have won five straight games since a season-opening 62-49 loss to Syracuse. Three of those victories have come away from their home arena, most recently including a 78-69 win against UCLA in the Wooden Classic on Saturday night in Anaheim.

It was San Diego State's 26th consecutive win against a California school and first against UCLA since 1940, though it was the schools' first meeting in 21 years.

"I told our players that we are appreciative of the fact that UCLA wanted to play us, so let's show them why we're a team that they should want to play with regularity," coach Steve Fisher said. "I thought it was a really good game with a tremendous crowd and two pretty doggone good teams playing against one another."

Fisher's veteran squad - whose five leading scorers are three seniors and two juniors - triumphed over a Bruins group which entered the season with high expectations on the reputations of three heralded freshmen.

San Diego State junior guard Jamaal Franklin, an under-the-radar prospect in the Class of 2010, outscored highly touted freshman Jordan Adams, 28-23.

"You can't really worry about the politics and the mock drafts and who is better than who," said Franklin, who is averaging 20.2 points. "You've just got to go out and play for your teammates and worry about winning, and that's what we do every day. That's all we focus on doing."

Twenty-one of Franklin's 28 points came in the second half, and he made 9 of 10 free throws in the game's final 1:38. It was his 27th consecutive game of double-figure scoring.

"Jamaal played with the fearlessness but also the stability that you want," Fisher said.

The Aztecs also held the Bruins nine points below their season scoring average. Their defense is limiting opponents to 55.8 points per game on 36.0 percent shooting, including 26.5 percent on 3-pointers.

San Diego State has recently discovered its own 3-point shot, going 29 for 69 (42.0 percent) in the last three games. The Aztecs hit only 9 of 59 (15.3 percent) in their first three games.

Texas Southern (1-6) narrowly missed its first win against a ranked team on Tuesday, pushing then-No. 19 Colorado to double overtime in an 85-80 road loss.

Omar Strong scored a career-high 39 points, hitting 9 of 21 3-pointers while playing 49 minutes in the loss. The 5-foot-9 senior guard previously had four games of 20-plus-points in his career.

"That hurts. That's what a loss does to you," Strong said. "I don't have an appetite. I don't even want to eat."

The Tigers rely heavily on the 3-point shot, and their 28.6 attempts per game are among the most in Division I. Their loss to Colorado was the second of their six to come by a margin smaller than 18 points.

Texas Southern's lone win was also in overtime, 74-71 against Louisiana-Lafayette on Nov. 16.

"I'm just trying to build the team and get better every single time," coach Mike Davis said. 'I think we took a step in the right direction."

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