SAN DIEGO — When the San Diego State players took the floor for the second half of Monday night's game against Air Force, most of them apparently had the Hawaii game ingrained in their memories.
Against Hawaii last Thursday night, the Aztecs led by 15 points at half and by only 4 early in the second half. SDSU escaped with a four-point victory on the road.
And they seem to have learned a valuable lesson: Pounce on the opposing team when you have a substantial lead at halftime.
That's what SDSU did against the Falcons. The Aztecs led Air Force, 40-29, at halftime and scored the first nine points of the second half to take a 20-point lead.
That left the Aztec substitutes to finish off, and SDSU walked away with a 74-64 Western Athletic Conference basketball victory in front of 1,670 fans in the San Diego Sports Arena.
SDSU forward Michael Kennedy hit 8 of 14 shots for 19 points in 27 minutes. Anthony Watson and Creon Dorsey added 13 points apiece, and Jeff Konek came off the bench to add 10 points and 5 assists.
Junior forward Maurice McDonald, the Falcons' leading scorer, led Air Force with 14 points. Jim Gulsvig scored 12 and Mike Hammond added 10 for Air Force, which hit 41% of its field-goal attempts.
The Aztecs' victory was their second over the Falcons this season. They won, 88-73, Jan. 5 in Colorado Springs, Colo.
SDSU is 6-2 in the WAC and 15-4 overall. Air Force, which lost its 10th straight game, is 0-8 and 4-13.
The Aztecs are tied with New Mexico and BYU for second place in the WAC, one game behind Texas-El Paso. New Mexico beat Colorado State, 44-42, Monday night in Albuquerque. SDSU will play BYU in Provo on Thursday.
As has been their pattern in their last three games, the running Aztecs got off to a very quick start Monday night.
However, the Falcons were only one of the obstacles the Aztecs had to overcome.
Because the Disney on Ice show starts tonight, the basketball court was placed over a sheet of ice that made the floor hard and cold. A slight leak in the roof on a rainy night didn't make anything easier for the Aztecs.
SDSU came out running and led 12-4 after five minutes, 23-10 at the midway point of the half and 40-25 just moments before the half.
The taller Aztecs outrebounded the Falcons 25-15 in the first half and used their quickness to score on easy jump shots and fast break layups.
"San Diego is the toughest team in the WAC for us in terms of matchups," said Falcon Coach Reggie Minton. "Because of their size and team speed a press doesn't jurt them. Actually, they are probably secretly smiling when we apply pressure."
With the Western Athletic Conference season at the halfway mark, the Aztecs have equaled their best start since joining the conference. In 1982, the Aztecs also went 6-2. They finished 11-5 and tied with UTEP for second place . . . For the second game in a row, Anthony Watson missed a dunk on a breakaway. Midway through the second half of Monday night's game, Watson made a steal and then banged his attempted slam dunk off the back rim. Aztec Coach Smokey Gaines immediately took his junior guard out of the game, and Watson did not return for the remaining 9:41 of the game . . . The Aztec baseball team will play its annual Pro-All Star game this Saturday at 5 p.m. at Smith Field on the SDSU campus. Tony Gwynn of the Padres and Bobby Meacham of the Yankees are among the former Aztecs expected to face the 1985 team.