FORT WORTH, Texas – Malcolm Thomas had 18 points and 10 rebounds, Kawhi Leonard added 14 points and 11 rebounds and the duo also keyed a game-turning run after halftime as sixth-ranked San Diego State stretched its season-opening winning streak to 16 in a row with a 66-53 victory over TCU on Wednesday night.
In their Mountain West opener, the undefeated Aztecs did pretty much the same thing they have been doing to non-conference opponents. They put the game out of reach with a strong second half, including yet another extended scoring run.
Leonard had six points and Thomas five in a 13-0 run early in the second half that pushed the Aztecs to a 49-31 lead over TCU (9-7).
San Diego State's 16-game winning streak is the second-longest in the country, trailing only the 24 wins in a row by defending national champion Duke.
The Aztecs have the longest winning streak in the 90-year history of the program. It is the most consecutive wins ever at the start of a season for Steve Fisher in his 20 seasons as a head coach — 12 at San Diego State and eight at Michigan. His 1992-93 Wolverines won their first 12 games and played in the NCAA title game that season.
Leonard set the tone after halftime with a strong inside basket, and Thomas then drove for a layup while being fouled and made the free throw. Then Billy White had an impressive block, slapping the ball out of Ronnie Moss' hands from behind with such force that it ricocheted off the backboard out past the 3-point arc — and that led to a one-handed hard slam by Thomas.
Nikola Cerina, who had 12 points for TCU, then made a layup before the Aztecs scored 13 in a row.
Thomas later had a slam dunk to start the run — already the Aztecs' 22nd scoring spurt this season of at least nine consecutive points. Not to be outdone, Leonard scored on a highlight ally-oop play with a pass from Chase Tapley, who had 12 points and four assists.
Four of the six San Diego baskets in that 3-minute spurt came after turnovers by Moss. Leonard forced the last of Moss' miscues then had the assist on a run-capping breakaway slam by Tapley.
Garlon Green led TCU with 13 points while Moss had 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting with just 1-of-7 on 3-pointers. J.R. Cadot had 12 rebounds.
James Rahon hit consecutive 3-pointers, the first from the top of the key as the shot clock expired, to start a half-ending 10-1 run for the Aztecs that put them up 29-26. Those were Rahon's only points.
Brian Carlwell then had a layup and a slam dunk to wrap up the first half.
TCU had led 25-19 when Cerina made an inside layup. That came right after Cadot's scooping assist to Green, who grabbed the ball in midair and slammed it.