AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Once they had dispatched of feisty Air Force, the sixth-ranked San Diego State Aztecs were free to focus on BYU, the only team to beat them this year.
They talked about cleaning up all that went wrong in a 13-point loss to the Cougars last month. Atop that list ...
"We have to try to keep Jimmer under 43," cracked Aztecs' point guard D.J. Gay, recalling Jimmer Fredette's point total in that Jan. 26 game in Provo.
The Aztecs, who lead the nation in wins (27) and winning percentage (96.4), have six days to prepare for their rematch against the nation's leading scorer and seventh-ranked BYU.
"This game we really want," Malcolm Thomas said. "We want to show that we're one of the best in the nation."
They warmed up by holding off Air Force 70-58 Saturday and setting a school record with its 27th win. Thomas posted his seventh double-double of the season with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Kawhi Leonard posted his 19th double-double with 18 points and 15 boards as the Aztecs (27-1, 12-1 Mountain West) beat the Falcons (13-12, 4-8) for the seventh straight time.
Air Force, which was led by Michael Lyons' 18 points, was beaten on the glass 50-27 and allowed 21 offensive rebounds. The Falcons fell to 0-30 against top-10 opponents and 1-71 all-time against ranked teams. But they sure made a game of it before fading down the stretch.
"We came out and played our hearts out in the first half and fought in the second half," said Falcons forward Derek Brooks.
UNLV 68, COLORADO STATE 61: At Fort Collins, Colo., Oscar Bellfield scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half and Anthony Marshall added 16, helping UNLV hold off Colorado State.
The Rebels (20-7, 8-5 Mountain West) have won 20 games for a fifth straight season. They atoned for an earlier 15-point loss to the Rams (18-8, 8-4), a team they may be fighting with for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
UNLV gained on Colorado State in the conference standings, pulling within a half-game of the Rams for third place.
Tre'Von Willis, who missed the first meeting against CSU with a sore right knee, finished with nine points and eight assists. He sealed the win by hitting two free throws with 15.6 seconds remaining.
Willis missed a pair of free throws with 1:35 left, after Rams coach Tim Miles was given a technical foul for throwing his clipboard in the air in disagreement with a call.
Chace Stanback had 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Rebels.
Andy Ogide had 19 points and Wes Eikmeier 13 for the Rams, whose three-game winning streak ended.