SAN DIEGO (AP) After a rough non-conference performance, San Diego State has opened Mountain West Conference play with three straight wins.
Freshman Jeremy Hemsley matched his career-high with 20 points, including five during a key stretch in the second half, and the Aztecs beat San Jose State 77-62 Wednesday night.
Winston Shepard and Zylan Cheatham each scored 17 for the Aztecs (10-6, 3-0), while Trey Kell had 10.
It's a nice change from earlier in the season. Losing to No. 2 Kansas was one thing. But the Aztecs had their fans scratching their heads following stunning losses to Little Rock, San Diego and Grand Canyon.
''We're feeling great starting off conference,'' Shepard said. ''Sometimes things don't always start off how you want them to, but that doesn't mean you should throw the season in the tank.''
Ryan Welage and Princeton Onwas each scored 23 points for San Jose State (5-10, 0-3). The Spartans went on a 9-0 run late in the first half to keep it close and then took a 40-39 lead early in the second on a 3-pointer by Welage.
The Aztecs responded with a 12-0 run to take a 41-40 lead and weren't threatened again. Hemsley started the salvo with a jumper and then a 3-pointer. Shepard converted a 3-point play, Kell made a jumper and a layup, and Cheatham made a layup.
Hemsley also scored 20 points in the season-opener against Illinois State on Nov. 13 and in a win against Nicholls State on Dec. 10.
Hemsley scored the Aztecs' first eight points of the game, making a 3-pointer, two free throws and another 3.
''Basketball's a game of runs,'' Hemsley said. ''When the other team gets a run, you can't panic or get down on yourself. You've got to focus on doing what you have to do to not allow them to get another run. When they did take that one-point lead there in the second half, I think we did a good job of just coming right back down and scoring and not worrying about what the score was.''
Cheatham had two nice alley-oop slam dunks, both on passes from Shepard. One was early in the first half and the other capped cap a 7-0 run that gave SDSU a 32-21 lead.
The Spartans then went on a 9-0 run, including two layups by Onwas and a 3-pointer by Frank Rogers, to pull within two.
Hemsley hit a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left in the first half for a five-point lead, but Onwas answered with a 3 to make it 37-35 at halftime.
''Our kids competed tonight,'' San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik said. ''It was the first time I've really seen us compete for 40 minutes. There are no moral victories. I know that. But we competed. The difference was that we made shots in the first half and we didn't make as many shots in the second half.''
Wojcik said he challenged Welage, a freshman from Greensburg, Indiana. ''I said, `You're going to walk out there and they're not going to respect you. They're going to look at you and see 190 pounds. You just be aggressive.' He knows how to play. He's from Indiana. He knows what to do with the ball. I'm really proud of him. He was aggressive from start to finish.''
San Jose State: The Spartans have lost all four games to SDSU since they joined the MWC prior to the 2013-14 season. Overall, they've lost five straight to the Aztecs.
San Diego State: The Aztecs were playing for the first time since being notified Tuesday by the NCAA that allegations made against the program were not substantiated.
San Jose State hosts Colorado State on Saturday.
San Diego State visits Colorado State next Wednesday night.