Jan 292012
Authors: Kyle Grabowski

San Diego State came into Saturday’s game at Moby Arena with an 11-game winning streak and a No. 12 ranking in the coach’s poll, but left with students storming the court after a 77-60 CSU win.

“I said to one of my assistants, ‘is the music better tonight?” CSU coach Tim Miles said. “It was pretty awesome.”

CSU rode the momentum from the crowd to a dominating performance, never leading by less than double digits after a pair of free throws from junior Wes Eikmeier with 1:16 left in the first half.

“We knew if we didn’t play defense we weren’t going to win,” senior forward Will Bell said.

Bell finished with 17 points, second to Eikmeier’s team-high 19. Overall four Rams scored in double digits to lead a balanced attack that CSU got away from in its last two games — both road losses.

“We saw what we were doing wrong, and they know how we can play and how we’re supposed to play,” Miles said. “I think it was just that self-recognition, and we played how we have to play to be successful.”

The Rams carried a 12-point lead into halftime and didn’t give up a field goal in the second half until Xavier Thames’ layup with 13:15 remaining.

“We knew they were going to try to come at us hard and try and attack the rim,” Eikmeier said. “Our emphasis at halftime was to stay solid on defense because if we let up at all, that lead we had would shrink down real quick.”

The Aztecs never led by more than three in the game. Sophomore Jamaal Franklin gave them that margin with 14:18 left in the first half, but CSU went on a 15-4 run to take the lead and never looked back.

“They set the tone early, they built confidence in themselves early,” SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. “We were beaten today. We had a difficult time making shots.”

San Diego State shot 31.3 percent from the field and only hit 3-of-21 behind the arc.

“I think we caught them on a bad shooting night; that’s why we were able to extend (the lead),” Miles said.

CSU won for the first time in two weeks, following ugly performances on the road against Wyoming and New Mexico.

“We know how bad we can be, and we know how good we can be,” Eikmeier said. “The idea is to build off this.”

In those road losses CSU struggled to rebound at all, but flipped the script against SDSU and out-rebounded the Aztecs 40-30.

“We made it a point to keep them off the glass,” junior Pierce Hornung said. Hornung finished with a game-high 13 rebounds, with 11 of them on defense.

The Rams also excelled from the free throw line, making 23-23 from the charity stripe to set a Mountain West record.

Even with the program’s first victory over a ranked team since 2003, CSU refused to place too much weight on the one win.

“We can’t think that we’re going to make the tournament, or people are going to respect us now,” Bell said. “It’s not done yet.”

Men’s Basketball Beat Reporter Kyle Grabowski can be reached at sports@collegian.com.

Score: SDSU-60 CSU-77
SDSU shooting: 31.3 percent, 3-21 form three point range
CSU rebounds: 40, 34 on defense
CSU free throw shooting: 23-23 (MW record)

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