Two of New Mexico’s home games this season have been delayed by false fire alarms.
There’s nothing false about San Diego State, and cooling off the undefeated Aztecs promises to be a tall order.
Sixth-ranked San Diego State seeks to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 19 on Saturday when it visits the Lobos.
One of four remaining undefeated teams in Division I, the Aztecs (18-0, 3-0 Mountain West) continued their remarkable start Wednesday with a physical 55-49 victory over UNLV. The 18-game winning streak became the nation’s longest after No. 1 Duke had its 25-game run snapped in a 66-61 loss at Florida State earlier Wednesday night.
“It means a lot, but we’re not done yet,” senior forward Billy White said. “We’ve still got a lot of ballgames to look forward to. Right now we’re happy with that and hoping to extend it.”
White, who had 10 points against the Runnin’ Rebels, forms one of the nation’s top frontcourts with fellow senior Malcolm Thomas and sophomore Kawhi Leonard. Thomas had 14 points and 16 rebounds Wednesday while Leonard had 15 points and 17 boards, marking the first time in school history that two Aztecs had at least 16 rebounds.
Despite their accomplishments, the Aztecs are not one of college basketball’s traditional powers. Coming from the mid-major Mountain West, they perceive a lack of national respect.
“Some people think we’re still a joke,” White said. “We hear comments all the time - we shouldn’t be in the top 10, we shouldn’t be ranked, but that just motivates us more, keeps us playing harder, keeps making us prove them wrong. We know that we belong here. For right now we’re not going anywhere. We’re trying to move up. We’ve just got to get better to do that.”
The Lobos (13-4, 1-1) know White and the Aztecs are no joke. San Diego State took two of three meetings last season, including a 72-69 victory in the MWC tournament semifinals at Las Vegas behind 28 points from White. New Mexico’s lone victory in the season series came in overtime, 88-86 at home Feb. 6.
The Lobos have won 35 of 36 at home, including victories in their only two games against ranked opponents during that span - Texas Tech and BYU last season.
They improved to 9-0 at home this season with a 68-61 victory over Colorado State on Wednesday in a game delayed 38 minutes with one second left in the first half after a fire alarm was deliberately pulled.
It was the second fire-alarm delay of the season in newly remodeled University Arena.
Coming off the bench for the first time in his career, junior guard Phillip McDonald matched a career high with 27 points against the Rams. Forward Drew Gordon, meanwhile, made his first start of the season and responded with 15 points and 16 rebounds for his second double-double in three games.
Gordon, a transfer from UCLA averaging a team-best 8.1 boards, appears to relish the challenge San Diego State’s forwards present in the low post.
“I’m not going to back down from anybody,” he told the Lobos’ official website. “I’m not going to be scared of anybody or let anybody intimidate me.”