San Diego St. 55, No. 15 New Mexico 34
SAN DIEGO (AP)
So much so that they routed the Lobos 55-34 on Saturday, New Mexico's worst loss in the shot-clock era.
JJ O'Brien had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Franklin scored 10 points while leading SDSU's smothering defense to keep New Mexico from running away with the Mountain West Conference race.
SDSU (16-4, 4-2) dealt the Lobos (17-3, 4-1) their first conference loss and snapped New Mexico's four-game winning streak.
New Mexico's 34 points were its fewest since scoring 32 on Jan. 31, 1976, at Utah. The Lobos shot 25 percent (11 of 44), their lowest mark since at least 1965.
''As good as we were as a team, I have to start with Jamaal,'' SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. ''For those that only look at a stat line, you don't appreciate what he brings to this team. He's the soul of our program. He willed everybody to be ready.
''If you're not in that locker room, if you're not on that practice floor, if you're not on that bus, if you're not in the hotel, if you're not on that plane, you can't fully appreciate what he brings to this team,'' Fisher added. ''He played the best defense he's played since he's been at San Diego State. And that permeated through everybody. We said we were going to guard them, we were not going to give them easy looks, and that's what we did to a man.''
A week earlier, SDSU scored only nine points in the first half of a 58-45 loss at Wyoming.
''It's exciting. We needed that one,'' Franklin said. ''It was a really big win and New Mexico is a really good team. Like Coach Fisher always stresses, you can't win this league if you don't win home games. I feel like this was a big home win.''
SDSU shot only 40.4 percent (23 of 57) but outrebounded the Lobos 41-26.
''I would say that we are competing really hard right now,'' Franklin said. ''I feel that when we lost to Wyoming, that was a wakeup call. It was one of those that if we keep playing the way we were, being lackadaisical, walking on the court, thinking that we are going to win this game, it is not going to happen. Especially in a league like this when you are playing good teams every day. I feel like our energy is on point right now.''
The Aztecs forced 17 turnovers and had 10 steals.
''We weren't who we were,'' New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. ''We didn't execute our offense. We really got dominated inside, which we thought would be our strength. They beat us points in the paint; they beat us on the glass. They took away just about everything that was our strength.''
Lobos guard Hugh Greenwood agreed, saying, ''We just didn't execute. They're not a great defensive team but they forced us to turn the ball over. We didn't rebound. We're at our best when we are rebounding and getting out and running.''
Alford pointed out that the Lobos held SDSU to 55 points and 40 percent shooting, plus 20 percent from 3-point range.
''So, the effort was there. We got out-toughed in a lot of areas,'' Alford said.
''You can't question our defense,'' Greenwood said. ''We kept this team to 50-odd points in their building. Normally you're going to win a lot of games. Keep them to 50-some points and not even being in the game, there has to be something with the offense.''
Kendall Williams had 14 points for the Lobos, whose 34 points tied for the second-fewest in a Mountain West game since the league began play in 1999-2000. Air Force scored 34 against San Diego State on Feb. 7, 2009. The MWC record for fewest points is 33, set by Air Force against BYU on Feb. 3, 2003.
San Diego State's 21-point margin of victory tied for its highest against a nationally ranked opponent, 62-41 against then-No. 15 Air Force on Feb. 6, 2007.
New Mexico's previous season lows of 46 points and 31.8 percent shooting came in its last loss, 60-46 at Saint Louis on Dec. 31.
SDSU and New Mexico shared the MWC regular-season title last year, with each team winning at the other's arena. The Lobos then beat the Aztecs in the conference tournament championship game.
The Aztecs fell out of the Top 25 on Monday after losing at home to UNLV and on the road to Wyoming last week. SDSU bounced back by winning at Nevada on Wednesday.
Leading 33-19 at halftime, SDSU scored 10 of the first 15 points in the second half to go up 43-24. O'Brien had six of those points, including a nice reverse layup after rebounding DeShawn Stephens' missed free throw. O'Brien also scored after rebounding his own miss and on a jumper.
San Diego State ended the first half on an 8-0 run, including a 3-pointer by Franklin.
After a slow start by both teams, the Aztecs took control with a 14-2 run that gave them a 21-9 lead with 9:19 left before halftime. That run also ended with a 3-pointer, by Xavier Thames.
Thames, who's been bothered by a back injury, didn't start for the fourth time in six games. Freshman Winston Shepard had five points during the 14-2 spurt.
New Mexico came back with a jump hook by Alex Kirk and a 3-pointer by Tony Snell to make it 23-14. New Mexico didn't make a field goal the rest of the first half after Cleveland Thomas hit a baseline jumper with 4:53 to go.