ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Coach Steve Fisher is almost ready to say it: Smooth-shooting point guard D.J. Gay is San Diego State’s best player.
Gay scored a career-high 30 points, Kawhi Leonard had 19 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 6 San Diego State beat New Mexico 87-77 on Saturday to remain one of the nation’s four unbeaten teams.
Fisher said he has maintained all season that Gay is arguably the team’s most important player.
“I somewhat qualified it, probably making him mad, saying he’s not our best player, but he’s our most important player,” Fisher said. “He’s inching up to not only be our most important player, but our best player. He was fantastic. He plays with no fear, no agenda.”
Chase Tapley added 15 points, and the Aztecs (19-0, 4-0 Mountain West Conference) made 13 of 25 from 3-point range to win for the fourth time in their last six visits to The Pit and extend the country’s longest active win streak to a school-record 19 games.
“We’ve had some good fortune here,” Fisher said. “We’ve gotten a little lucky at times, but today was not luck. We were very, very good at both ends of the floor.”
Here’s some tough news for the Mountain West’s other contenders: San Diego State has played three of its first four league games on the road.
The Lobos (13-5, 1-2) got an outstanding effort from UCLA transfer Drew Gordon, who had a career-high 23 points and 14 rebounds in his ninth game since becoming eligible last month. But it wasn’t enough, as the Aztecs snapped New Mexico’s 16-game home winning streak.
Coach Steve Alford, who lost only his fourth league home game with the Lobos, said it was “pick your poison” in whether to stop San Diego State’s potent inside game or check the Aztecs on the perimeter. The plan was to play tough inside defense, but Gay and Tapley responded from long range.
“We did our job stopping them inside,” Gordon said. “They came with the heat from outside.”
Dairese Gary matched Gordon’s 23 points, but a young Lobos squad doomed itself with a sloppy first half and shot a season-low 39 percent from the field. Phillip McDonald, coming off a career-high 27 points in a victory over Colorado State, scored six points, all on free throws, and shot 0-for-5 from the floor.
■ Colorado State 79, Texas Christian 69 — At Fort Collins, Colo., Andy Ogide had 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Rams beat the Horned Frogs.
Travis Franklin added 14 points for Colorado State (12-5, 2-1), which has won eight of its last 10 games. Amric Fields came off the bench to score 19 points for TCU (10-9, 1-3).
■ Utah 68, Wyoming 51 — At Laramie, Wyo., Will Clyburn had 24 points and 12 rebounds as the Utes snapped their seven-game losing streak by beating the Cowboys.
Josh Watkins had 16 points and Shawn Glover 10 for the Utes (8-10, 1-3). Desmar Jackson led Wyoming (8-10, 1-3) with 17 points.