San Diego State (16-4, 10-3 MWC) spotted the Bulldogs an 11-0 start Thursday night but roared back with a 19-0 run to take a lead it wouldn't relinquish.
The Aztecs' 67-53 win was their widest margin of victory against Fresno State in nearly seven years.
"This was a good, hard-fought road win," San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher said. "I told our guys we were stepping up in weight class against Fresno."
Fresno State (9-8, 7-8) was held below 60 points for the sixth time this season and the Bulldogs shot just 33.3 percent from the field, their lowest field-goal percentage at home since shooting the same mark against UNLV on Jan. 1, 2014.
"What you're seeing is the guys who are starting to become more consistent are the guys that are playing more," Fresno State coach Justin Hutson said. "We're still finding things out against better teams, and against better teams you find little things out more about who is being a little more solid and who is moving the ball and making the extra pass, and who defends."
Dutcher is in a much different situation with the Aztecs.
San Diego State's starting lineup consists of four seniors and a junior, allowing Dutcher to leave many decisions in the hands of those on the floor.
Matt Mitchell, making his 100th start for the Aztecs, led the way with 19 points against the Bulldogs on Thursday, and Trey Pulliam matched his career high with 18 points, well above his 5.4 scoring average.
"I think that if Trey could be that aggressive, that confident every night, we would be an extremely hard team to beat," Mitchell said. "It's all about Trey being able to get downhill, get his rhythm and feel good, and be able to feel good to the point where he's letting those shots go at any point in the game."
Mitchell played without a brace on his hyperextended right knee for the first time this season on Thursday and said he felt a big relief.
"I finally feel free from that little bit of weight that was holding me down and restricting me from feeling myself," he said. "I definitely feel like myself again. I'm healthy and ready to go."
Hutson was much more satisfied with how the Bulldogs settled down in the second half Thursday, when they were outscored by only two points.
That stretch gave the Fresno State players confidence heading into the rematch on Saturday as well.
"I'm looking forward to getting back at them, competing again. Make it a closer game," Fresno State guard Anthony Holland said. "I want to win Saturday. That's what we all want to do. I want to make this a great game on Saturday and just win."
--Field Level Media
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