Nevada’s basketball team arrived at Viejas Arena on Saturday night knowing it had a respectable defense. The statistics said so. San Diego coach Steve Fisher, who knows something about the subject, said so.

A couple hours later, the Wolf Pack left the court understanding that there is a considerable gap between good and great.

“We talked about it before the game,” said sophomore forward Winston Shepard. “Coach Fisher told us they were No. 1 in total defense, 3-point defense. We kind of took it as an insult a little bit.

“We don’t come out pounding our chest, but we had that in the back of our minds.”

With a ferocious press at times, and constant shadowing of Nevada guard Deonte Burton, the top scorer in the Mountain West, the Aztecs forced 12 turnovers and scored 21 points off that effort to run away in the second half for a 73-58 victory.

The 20th consecutive win for No. 5-ranked SDSU put the current team even with the 2010-11 squad that is considered the finest in school history. That team, which reached the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16, also won 20 straight.

What even the other team or any other in SDSU’s 93 years of basketball didn’t do was capture 10 consecutive conference games, the milestone the current Aztecs (21-1) reached on Saturday to keep their slim lead over 9-1 New Mexico.

Days since the Aztecs last lost: 86.

“I’m surprised that anybody can win 20 in a row, no matter what league they’re in,” Fisher said. “The way we’ve played, the people we’ve beaten … all of us are going in expecting to win.”

Saturday’s game against Nevada was the first and only scheduled between the teams for the regular season. That was a bit unnerving, especially since the Wolf Pack, 7-3 and third in the MW entering the game, boasted both a top-notch conference defense and scorers that could hit baskets in bunches.

Among the keys for SDSU: Hold Burton, averaging 21.1 points per game, to as few uncontested baskets as possible; and play physical inside against a team averaging 25.6 defensive rebounds per game.

The result: Burton was held to 11 points on 4-for-15 shooting -- his third-lowest total of the season, and the Aztecs matched the Wolf Pack with 19 defensive rebounds and were edged by only 10-8 on the offensive side.

“It’s our defense and the way we guard them,” Fisher said. “There are the out-of-the-seat plays with steals and dunks. But the meat is the persistence and staying with it for an extended period of time. By the time (the opponent) gets set, there are 18 seconds left on the shot clock instead of 25.

“Our defense was very, very effective for us and was a huge ally in the outcome of the game.”