HONOLULU Chase Tapley thought Indiana State gave No. 18 San Diego State its toughest test of the season Sunday.
Now, the Sacramento High School graduate hopes the game pushes the Aztecs forward as they look toward Mountain West Conference play and a possible NCAA Tournament berth.
"We need games like that for later on," said Tapley, who scored 13 points as the Aztecs (11-1) beat Indiana State 62-55 despite poor free-throw and three-point shooting. "It gives us good experience."
Jamaal Franklin had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead San Diego State to the Diamond Head Classic final Tuesday against No. 4 Arizona, which beat Miami 69-50 in the other semifinal.
San Diego State pulled ahead for good during a seven-point run that included five consecutive points by Tapley. With five minutes to play, Tapley drove to the basket and was stopped by Jake Odum, who was called for a flagrant foul. Tapley made two free throws, and a quick three-pointer on the ensuing possession gave the Aztecs a 51-44 lead.
The Sycamores (6-4) got no closer than three points after that.
"Every trip down the floor seemed like a big possession," San Diego State coach Steve Fisher said. "Both teams came up empty at times."
Franklin was one rebound shy of his career high, set last season against Colorado State. Former Pleasant Grove High School star Xavier Thames had 12 points and four steals for the Aztecs.
The Aztecs went on a 9-1 run midway through the first half to take a 20-13 lead. The run was capped by a three-pointer by Tapley. But the Sycamores pulled within 28-25 at halftime.
San Diego State shot 24 percent (4 for 17) from three-point range and 64 percent (18 for 28) from the free-throw line.
Mississippi 85, USF 78 Two days before Christmas, there were no presents to be found for Andy Kennedy's Rebels.
Instead, Ole Miss (9-2) came away with a hard-fought win over the Dons (5-6) that was anything but gift-wrapped.
Murphy Holloway had 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Rebels back from a 13-point first-half deficit in the Diamond Head Classic.
"When you're in the consolation bracket at 10 a.m. (Hawaii time), 3,000 miles from home, it's about survival, and that's what we did," Kennedy said.
USF shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half and 40.7 percent after halftime. Cody Doolin led the Dons with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. De'End Parker scored 17 points and Cole Dickerson 14 for USF.
The Dons led 32-19 with 6:17 left in the first half following Doolin's three-pointer, but the Rebels went on a 14-6 run and trailed 38-33 at halftime.