Jan 1, 2014 11:37 PM by Greg Smith
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) - Xavier Thames scored 23 points to help No. 21 San Diego State fend off Colorado State 71-61 on Wednesday night for its 10th straight win.
Winston Shepard scored 17 points and Josh Davis had seven points and 15 rebounds for the Aztecs (11-1, 1-0 Mountain West), which won its seventh straight conference opener in tying the second-best 12-game start in school history.
The Aztecs dominated Colorado State (9-5, 0-1) in the paint, outscoring the Rams 40-16 from up close and out-shooting them from the field 48.2 percent to 38.5.
Daniel Bejarano led Colorado State with 22 points while J.J. Avila had 15 points and Jon Octeus 10.
Trailing by nine points at halftime, the Rams narrowed the deficit to four on a jumper by Joe De Ciman in the opening minutes of the second half. The Aztecs responded with a 10-3 run that included a three-point play by Shepard and a 3-pointer by Aqeel Quinn to rebuild their lead to 50-39.
Colorado State made another push to get within six points but Thames found the range from the perimeter, scoring 10 of San Diego State's 11 points in a 3-minute stretch, including two 3 pointers as the Aztecs went in front 62-52 with 6:23 remaining.
Colorado State got no closer than seven points the rest of the way with San Diego State maintaining the lead by making just enough free throws down the stretch.
The Aztecs closed the first half with a 7-0 run over 2 1-2 minutes, taking a 36-27 halftime lead.
Colorado State got within 29-27 on two free throws by De Ciman, but JJ O'Brien converted a three-point play to trigger the Aztecs' closing burst. Thames' running jumper just before the first-half buzzer capped it.
San Diego State improved to 5-0 away from home this season in winning for the first time in its last three trips to Colorado State.