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No. 13 San Diego State beats Air Force 79-72

Sunday - 1/12/2014, 9:30pm  ET

RICHARD J. MARCUS
Associated Press

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) -- Air Force guard Tre' Coggins did everything he could Sunday to extend the Falcons' home winning streak against San Diego State to three games.

His 29 points, however, were not enough to stop the 13th-ranked Aztecs from beating Falcons 79-73.

"SDSU played us very well and they are a very good team," Coggins said. "They caused us to turn the ball over."

The Falcons had 14 turnovers while San Diego State had seven.

JJ O'Brien had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Aztecs in their 13th straight win while Josh Davis added 13 points and 11 rebounds. Xavier Thames added 16 points and freshman shooting specialist Matt Shrigley scored all 13 of his points in the second half, connecting on three big 3-pointers midway through the second half.

"We have not seen that kind of length and size. That team just played and won at Kansas last Sunday. They're a little bit more experienced than us," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "Our effort was outstanding."

San Diego State (14-1, 3-0 Mountain West) has the fifth-best active streak nationally and it tied the second-longest winning streak in school history. The Aztecs continue the second-best start in school history behind the 20-0 in 2010-11.

The Falcons (8-7, 2-2) did not go down easily against the taller, deeper and more physical Aztecs. Air Force led for much of the first half before trailing 31-27 at the break.

"We got afraid to guard him (Coggins) in the last two minutes and then when we did guard him we fouled him," Fisher said. "He's a good player. He can beat you off the bounce and if you back off him he can beat you shooting from a distance."

San Diego State's rebounding advantage and 3-point shooting proved the difference. The Aztecs held a 39-30 rebounding edge including 17-6 on the offensive end. The Aztecs were 7 of 14 from beyond the arc while the Falcons were 7 of 20.

"We got tentative against the press," Pilipovich said. "We worked on it in practice but couldn't duplicate their length or athleticism in practice."

Even though San Diego State had won nine of the previous 11 meetings, Clune Arena has been a nemesis for the Aztecs the past two years, including a Falcons' 70-67 victory last season and a 58-56 win in 2012. The Aztecs were ranked in both losses.

"We came in more focused. With the last couple of years maybe we had expectations to win and win big and we came in (today) knowing it was going to be a good game," O'Brien said. "It is not easy to win here. We were just really tough tonight."

"Air Force popped us twice in a row (at Clune) so it was nice to come in here and sneak out a victory," SDSU coach Steve Fisher said. "For whatever reason, this has been a hard place for us."

Air Force had won eight of its last nine games at Clune coming into Sunday. The Aztecs started the second half on a 7-0 run over the first 2 minutes for a 38-27 lead.

"We didn't finish the first half very well and didn't start the second half very well," Pilipovich said. "Right in there is where they built their lead and maintained it to win the game."

San Diego State was the Falcons' first ranked opponent this season. Air Force is 4-80 against ranked opponents in program history. The Falcons will likely have another chance when they play at San Diego State on Feb. 15.


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