SAN DIEGO (AP)– Colorado State’s upset magic didn’t follow the Rams on the road.
Jamaal Franklin matched his career high with 31 points and added a career-high 16 rebounds for No. 24 San Diego State, which beat Colorado State 74-66 on Saturday night to pull into a tie for first place in the Mountain West Conference with No. 18 New Mexico and No. 21 UNLV.
Franklin scored 13 of SDSU’s final 16 points in the last 4:25.
Xavier Thames scored all 15 of his points in the second half and James Rahon had 14 as the Aztecs (22-6, 8-4) picked up their intensity and avenged one of their more painful losses of the season. CSU routed SDSU by 17 points on Jan. 28, ending the Aztecs’ 11-game winning streak and beginning a stretch in which they lost four of six.
The Rams (17-10, 6-6) were coming off a home upset of New Mexico, which has lost two straight.
“This would have been a big win, especially after New Mexico,” Dorian Green said. “But we can’t dwell on it because we have Vegas coming up next.”
Franklin matched the 31 points he scored against UC Davis on Nov. 13. His previous rebounding high was 11, which he accomplished twice earlier this season.
With the Aztecs leading by four, Chase Tapley picked up a loose ball and passed it to Franklin, whose emphatic slam dunk gave SDSU a 65-59 lead with 2:30 left. Thames followed with a jumper on SDSU’s next possession for an eight-point cushion.
“You expect that it’s going to be a tough task to win at San Diego State,” coach Tim Miles said. “We took care of the ball and we didn’t hurt ourselves. But we didn’t make enough plays, either.”
Colorado State outhustled the Aztecs in taking a 34-30 halftime lead, but San Diego State finally matched the effort early in the second half. With CSU leading 36-32, Franklin made a jumper and Thames then made three straight baskets. Thames’ layup put SDSU ahead 38-36 for its first lead since 3-2 in the opening minutes. Hornung made a reverse layup to tie it before Thames again gave SDSU the lead with a jumper.
SDSU had a four-point lead until Eikmeier hit a long 3-pointer. Rahon responded with a 3 to extend SDSU’s lead back to 49-45.
Colorado State took a 52-51 lead on Jesse Carr‘s 3 with 8:10 to go before SDSU regained the lead for good on Thames’ floater.
Colorado State took its first-half lead by waiting for open shots and dominating on the boards.
The Rams led 21-12 midway through the opening half. The Aztecs went on an 8-0 run to pull within a point but couldn’t get the lead. Hornung made a layup and converted a three-point play to extend CSU’s lead to 26-20. CSU’s final two baskets of the half were off offensive rebounds, the first by Will Bell and then Hornung, who tipped the ball twice before it went in.
Rahon kept the Aztecs close with two 3-pointers in the final minute.
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