SAN DIEGO (AP) — San Diego State was a second away from its first loss when Malachi Flynn let fly with a long 3-pointer.
It found nothing but net, sending Viejas Arena into a frenzy and continuing the Aztecs' remarkable start.
Flynn hit a 3-pointer with nine-tenths of a second left to give the cold-shooting Aztecs a thrilling 59-57 victory over San Jose on Sunday for the Aztecs' first 10-0 start in nine seasons.
“That's what he does. That's why he's here, to take important shots," coach Brian Dutcher said about Flynn, a transfer from Washington State. “He makes hard shots and I can't say I'm surprised. You know he wants a shot and he stepped up and made a really timely one."
Flynn made just 3 of 13 shots.
“This one was huge, definitely.," Flynn said. “This has been the best one yet just because right now we're still undefeated, so that was big. San Jose came out to play today but we kept with it."
SDSU (2-0 Mountain West Conference) is off to its best start since opening 20-0 behind Kawhi Leonard in 2010-11. That team finished 34-3 after reaching the Sweet 16 for the first time.
The next stop for the Aztecs could be The Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in four years.
The Aztecs were in trouble after a flurry of 3-pointers by the Spartans in the final five minutes, including one by by Brae Ivey for a 55-54 lead. Seneca Knight added added a nice bank shot for a three-point lead for SJSU (3-7, 0-2).
But Matt Mitchell hit two free throws with 41.3 seconds to go, Knight missed two free throws and Mitchell rebounded KJ Feagin's missed 3-pointer with about 10 seconds left. After an SDSU timeout, the Aztecs retained possession following a held ball. Jordan Schakel passed to Flynn for his big shot.
“It felt good as soon as it left my hands," Flynn said. “I just knew I had space to get it off and I let it go."
Mitchell called the shot “surreal.”
"Malachi's a tough shot-maker. We've seen it in practice before. Still to see it in a game is just surreal. I'm glad we got a win. I'm glad he helped protect our undefeated record."
Mitchell finished with 13 points, Nathan Mensah 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Schakel 11 points.
Knight had 15 for the Spartans while Ivey had 13 and Ralph Agee 12.
“I think we got their best shot," Spartans coach Jean Prioleau said. “I think they played as well as they possibly could and we were right there in their face.”
The Aztecs shot just 32% and let the Spartans pull within four points three times midway through the second half.
The Spartans got consecutive 3-pointers by Knight and Christian Anigwe to pull to 52-49 and silence the crowd with 4:18 to go.
“It was a defensive struggle," Dutcher said. “San Jose played a magnificent game. We can't give up 3s, we can't give up transition baskets, and they hit six of 12 3s in the second half and some of them were incredibly contested. They made some hard shots down the stretch. We found a way to hang in there."
San Jose St:ate: The Spartans have lost five straight. They trailed No. 25 Utah State by three at halftime on Wednesday night before losing 71-59.
San Diego State: The Aztecs should move into the AP Top 25 on Monday. They were 28th last week, 23 points shy of being ranked. They haven't been ranked since they were No. 24 on Feb. 28, 2015. They lost their next game to Boise State
San Jose State hosts Stanford on Saturday.
San Diego State is off for finals until hosting San Diego Christian on Dec. 18.
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