- Associated Press - Saturday, February 1, 2014

SAN DIEGO (AP) - When Steve Fisher arrived at San Diego State in March 1999, the basketball program was barely an afterthought.

There was little tradition, little success and one of the best players in program history, Tony Gwynn, had become a superstar with baseball’s San Diego Padres.

That all changed under Fisher.

On Saturday, he earned his 300th win with the Aztecs in yet another milestone in his 14-plus seasons on Montezuma Mesa. Xavier Thames scored 24 points and Winston Shepard had 17 to lead No. 5 San Diego State to a 65-56 victory over Colorado State.

With leading rebounder Josh Davis sidelined by a bruised knee and forward Dwayne Polee out with an illness, the Aztecs (19-1, 8-0 Mountain West) won their 18th straight game and reached 8-0 in conference play for the first time in the program’s 93-year history.

In the locker room afterward, the players jumped up and down around Fisher and Thames presented him the game ball.

“He tried not to smile but he smiled,” Thames said.

“He was happy,” Shepard said.

“It’s not me, it’s we,” Fisher said. “Xavier Thames has been a part of a whole lot of victories for us, and Tim Shelton, who was standing in the corner, a whole lot of victories for us. It was neat.” Shelton, a former Aztecs player, is now director of player development.

Getting to 300 wins “says we’ve been here for a while. Not just me,” Fisher said. “I reflect back on our first year and the guys that were here that fought just as hard as this group did and we weren’t quite good enough to win. A lot of them are still hanging around and calling and emailing and texting to congratulate and I tell all of them, ‘Thank you. You’re part of it. You drove the stake pretty deep to build the foundation of what we’re doing.’ We’ve had a lot of players come and go and are still connected to the program. That makes me feel great.”

Fisher, who turns 69 on March 24, said he’s in no hurry to retire. Long-time assistant Brian Dutcher is designated as the head coach in waiting.

“I said in the locker room, ‘I don’t know, Winston, whether if you want to hear this, and I’m sure Dutcher doesn’t want to hear it, but I might go after 400 before I get out of here,’” Fisher said. “Who knows? I might feel good If I get teams like this. It makes it fun.”

Fisher’s first victory at SDSU came on Nov 24, 1999, 73-57 against UC Riverside. The Aztecs were only 5-23 that season, including 0-14 in league play.

It didn’t take him long to pump life into the program.

The Aztecs are one victory shy of their 10th 20-win season under Fisher. They have gone to a school-record four straight NCAA tournaments and six overall.

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