SAN DIEGO — San Diego State was leading San Jose State by one point late in the first half when redshirt freshman Jalen McDaniels made three straight baskets, including a one-handed dunk.
Besides invigorating the crowd, the dunk started a 26-4 run spanning halftime that the Aztecs rode to an 85-49 rout Tuesday night.
“I feel like it gave us energy, it gave me energy, it gave the whole team energy,” McDaniels said. “I feel like after that happened we all picked it up, stepped our game up, and I feel like it translated.”
Did it ever. The Aztecs blew open a close game against the Mountain West’s last-place team and cruised to their third straight win.
The 36-point victory margin tied for SDSU’s second-largest in MWC history, trailing only a 39-point win against Wyoming on Jan. 29, 2011.
Malik Pope and Max Montana scored 17 points apiece, Devin Watson added 15 and Jalen McDaniels 13 for SDSU (11-4, 3-1).
Keith Fisher scored 14 and Jaycee Hillsman 10 for San Jose State (3-13, 0-5), which has lost five straight.
The Aztecs were leading 20-19 when McDaniels, a redshirt freshman, had a jumper, the dunk and a shot off a rebound, to make it 26-21 with 3:53 before halftime.
McDaniels’ final two shots of that burst started a 10-2 run to close the half and gave SDSU a 32-23 lead.
San Jose State’s Ashtin Chastain made a jump hook in the opening minute of the second half before SDSU reeled off 16 straight points to jump ahead 48-25. Included in that run were a 3-point play by Watson and 3-point shots by Matt Mitchell and Pope.
“We just kept the pressure on them, kept pressing them, got easy baskets,” Watson said. “The pressure really helped us and really got us going.”
Montana scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half, including three 3-pointers in the final 3:10.
SDSU’s 25 assists were its most in a MWC game. Trey Kell had seven.
“The thing I’m most proud of is the way we shared the ball,” coach Brian Dutcher said. “When you share the ball and you take care of the ball, you give yourself a chance to win.”
The highlight of the first half for the Spartans came when Chastain attempted an alley-oop pass and it went in for a 3-pointer for an 11-8 lead.
Spartans junior forward Ryan Welage made two free throws with 4:12 to go to reach 1,000 points for his career.
“I thought we played well in the first 10 minutes of the game,” SJSU coach Jean Prioleau said. “They’re very talented. They can score at multiple positions. We couldn’t stop them. We tried to go zone. We tried to go man and again, we turned the ball over 18 times. They don’t press, but they pressed us because we have trouble handing the ball.”
San Jose State: The Spartans have lost five straight games to open Mountain West play. It doesn’t help that they’re averaging 22.3 turnovers per game. They had 11 in the first half and finished with 18.
San Diego State: The Aztecs shot only 14.3 percent from the 3-point line in the first half, missing 12 of 14 shots.
San Jose State hosts Air Force on Saturday afternoon.
San Diego State visits Boise State on Saturday night.