As if San Diego State’s men’s basketball team didn’t have enough to play for in setting the best conference start in program history and tying the school’s longest win streak, their coach has a milestone to reach as well.
Coach Steve Fisher goes for his 300th win at the school as the Aztecs host Colorado State at 4 p.m. Saturday at Viejas Arena. He is looking to become just the 18th coach in college basketball history to accomplish the feat with one school.
"I think you reflect back on all the players you've had, and all the people who have been involved and allowed you to have a measure of success and win games,” said Fisher, who has twice been named national coach of the year. “We've had good players here. We've recruited good kids who have gone on to graduate and do different things with their lives, that have allowed us to win. That's what I reflect back on and think about.”
But before he can get all reflective, the Aztecs (18-1, 7-0 in the Mountain West Conference) need to get past the Rams, a team they beat by 10 in the conference opener on New Year’s Day – a game the Aztecs never trailed. Colorado State (12-9, 3-5 in the conference) has lost three of four, but kept games close. Every other conference loss has been by single digits.
“It’s conference (play), it doesn’t matter what your record is,” said sophomore forward Winston Shepard, who scored 17 points in the first meeting. “When you’re playing on teams’ home court and playing away, it’s tough.”
SDSU jumped to No. 5 in the nation this week, the team’s highest ranking in four years. It also has won 17 straight games, one shy of the program record set in 1967 and tied in 2006.
The Aztecs have never started a conference slate with eight straight wins. They hold a half-game lead atop the Mountain West over New Mexico, which hosts last-place San Jose State at 5 p.m. on Saturday. SDSU travels to Albuquerque on Feb. 22, then hosts the Lobos on March 8 in the regular season finale.
It will be the first game in a week for the Aztecs, who held off Utah State in overtime for a hard-fought road win on Saturday. Guard Xavier Thames led the team with a career-high 31 points, including 10 in overtime. He scored a game-high 23 in the win over Colorado State earlier this year.
“We just want to keep getting better,” he said. “Coach tells us it’s a good thing to be No. 5 in the country, but there’s always room to get better. So that’s what we try to do each and every day, and we just have to keep working at it.”