SAN DIEGO (AP) — With a revenge win against Air Force well in hand, all that was left Wednesday night was for San Diego State's Jalen McDaniels to secure his sixth straight double-double.
McDaniels got it all right, on a jumper with 2:38 to go. He finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds in SDSU's 66-51 victory, the first time in more than a month the Aztecs have won consecutive games.
His six straight double-doubles are the most at SDSU since Michael Cage had a school-record eight straight in 1983-84. McDaniels came in tied with Kawhi Leonard (2010-11) with five, the most at the school in the Mountain West era, which started in 1999-2000.
Devin Watson scored 15 points, Jeremy Hemsley 14 and Matt Mitchell 11 for the Aztecs (12-8, 4-3), who avenged a 62-48 loss at Air Force on Jan. 12.
"He (McDaniels) just has a nose for the ball and he always seems to know where the ball is going to go when the shot goes up," Hemsley said. "He just plays with a lot of energy. If you do that, anybody will notice it and if you're good, they'll find you. Jalen's been consistent when it comes to that, and rebounding the ball and scoring points. He's done a good job of just doing his role for the team."
The redshirt sophomore came in leading the Aztecs with 16.8 points and 8.4 rebounds.
The school hasn't made McDaniels available at postgame news conferences since mid-December, when he was sued in a Washington court by two women for allegedly filming sex acts in 2016 while in high school in Federal Way and sharing them with friends through social media.
Asked if the school would ever let McDaniels speak postgame, coach Brian Dutcher hemmed and hawed before saying, "I don't know. Maybe."
Asked why McDaniels hasn't been brought to the news conferences, particularly as the double-doubles piled up, the coach said: "I think because he wants to talk about basketball and people will probably ask him questions that are not basketball-related."
SDSU was coming off a 94-77 home win against UNLV on Saturday night. This is the first time SDSU won consecutive games since beating Cal State Dominguez Hills on Dec. 12 and BYU on Dec. 22, both at home.
Lavelle Scottie scored 22 and A.J. Walker 10 for Air Force (9-12, 4-5).
Unlike the game at Air Force earlier this month, the Aztecs never trailed. With the Falcons struggling against a zone defense, the Aztecs quickly built an 18-7 lead thanks in part to 3-pointers by Mitchell, Adam Seiko, McDaniels and Hemsley. Air Force got within single digits only once more.
SDSU hit 7 of 12 3-pointers in taking a 36-19 halftime lead.
"They packed it on the zone and we couldn't get anything in the interior," Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich said. "They were long and made us force it from the outside and took us out of our rhythm. They were good tonight. They have been playing well. And then they made some shots early and I thought that really got them going. It really gave them confidence."
SDSU has alternated losses and wins since they opened league play with a defeat at Boise. That changed Wednesday night.
"I told the team before the game that this was an opportunity for us to build a little momentum, you know, to have back-to-back home games," Dutcher said. "Obviously we've struggled on the road. ... So now we feel we have a little positive momentum, not just by winning, but by the way we're playing."
SDSU outrebounded Air Force 38-27 and had 18 assists. In the loss at Air Force, the Aztecs had only one assist in the first half.
Air Force: The Falcons' win against SDSU on Jan. 12 was their first of three wins in four games but they've now lost two straight.
San Diego State: The Aztecs beat the Falcons for the 14th straight time in San Diego. They've played Air Force twice in 19 days but have yet to play Colorado State, Nevada, San Jose State and Utah State.
Air Force hosts Colorado State on Saturday.
San Diego State is at San Jose State on Saturday night.
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