WACO, Texas — This isn't the same San Diego State that won 34 games and went to the NCAA round of 16 last season.
The first loss for the Aztecs came much quicker this season — in the fourth game, in their first real challenge.
Quincy Miller and Quincy Acy sparked a game-turning run early in the second half for 11th-ranked Baylor in 77-67 victory Tuesday over the Aztecs, who last season won their first 20 games.
"It was a real test of our character as a team, being down most of the game," said Chase Tapley, the only returning starter for the Aztecs. "We can take positives from this game, but, yeah, it was a good test. They're athletic, they can shoot. It was a test of every aspect of the game."
Tapley had 28 points, but an inside basket by freshman Miller broke a 32-all tie and started an 18-5 run that put Baylor (3-0) ahead to stay.
It was senior Acy's reverse, one-handed slam dunk around San Diego State's tallest player in the middle of that spurt that really changed the momentum while Baylor also turned up the defensive pressure.
"Quincy Acy's dunk got everybody fired up, and then we were hot," guard Brady Heslip said. "We were denying, and they just seemed like in shock by it."
Miller, a 6-foot-9 forward, had 20 points and has led the Bears in scoring in all three games this season. He had seven points in that 5-minute spurt early in the second half, while Acy scored nine of his 13 points during that stretch.
"Acy is the backbone of this team in my opinion. He's a four-year veteran. He only cares about winning. Miller is terrifically talented," San Diego State coach Steve Heslip said. "They've got a nice blend of youth and age and experience and that's why they're a good team."
After Tapley hit a jumper to get the Aztecs (3-1) within 36-34, Acy made three free throws in an 8-second span before his momentum-turning play, when he drove the baseline around 6-11 Garrett Green and under the basket before reaching back for a rim-rattling slam.
Tapley hit eight of 10 3-pointers to lead San Diego State, which played its fourth game in five days and had 21 turnovers — the same as Baylor.
"I don't think fatigue was a factor. I think Baylor was a factor," Fisher said. "Their length and their athleticism took away what looked like could be baskets a little bit like we did last year."
Heslip had 16 points with four 3-pointers for Baylor, while Anthony Jones had 11 points.
Baylor played the third of five games to start the season without suspended sophomore standout Perry Jones, a 6-foot-11 forward who was the Big 12 preseason player of the year. He is serving an NCAA suspension for accepting improper benefits before he got to Baylor.
Jamaal Franklin had 11 points for San Diego State, while Xavier Thames and James Rahon had 10 each.Comment on this story
The Aztecs opened with three games at home over the weekend, winning easily over Bryant, Southern Utah and UC Davis. This was a different challenge, and Baylor scored 17 points off turnovers, 10 more than San Diego State — the final point differential.
"This was a team that was a whole lot better than the first three we played. This is what we're going to see a little bit of, hopefully not quite this good," Fisher said. "I know they won't be this long and athletic, but we've got five, six games where we're going to be tested to the max. We have to learn from this and not feel sorry for ourselves and learn from it."
The rare midweek afternoon game was part of ESPN's tipoff marathon.
It was San Diego State's second visit to the Ferrell Center. The Aztecs were the first opposing team to play in the building, beating the Bears 83-58 on Nov. 29, 1988. The two teams had last met in an NIT semifinal game in March 2009, a game the Bears won 76-62.