San Diego vs. (24) San Diego State
Game Time: 8 p.m. PST
Radio: ESPN 1700 AM
Teams Records: USD – 7-2 – SDSU – 5-1
Leading Scorers: USD – Dee 17.6 – SDSU – Thames 17.2
Leading Rebounders: USD – Kramer 6.3 – SDSU – Davis 8.5
Leading Distributors: USD – Anderson 6.4 – SDSU – Quinn 2.7
San Diego State
With no NBA franchise in the city of San Diego, these two division I college basketball teams rule the hoops scene in the city. With SDSU being the more prominent team on the national college basketball scene, they usually have the bigger fan base. However, the Torero’s have a substantial fan base as well that yearn to beat “State” year in and year out.
The Toreros have dropped 7 straight decisions to the Aztecs, with their last win being in the 2005-2006 season. In those seven meetings, USD has lost by double-digits in 4 out of the 7 games, including the last 3. Amidst this time period, the San Diego men’s basketball program has seen a brief ascent, followed by a sharp descent shadowed by a point-shaving scandal, and then the resurgence we see today.
Is it the Toreros turn to run the city of San Diego. We will see and find out.
AP Poll: 24
Coaches Poll: 28
San Diego State is one of the best teams that the Toreros will see all season. Many expected the Aztecs to have a down season with the departures of Jamal Franklin and Chase Tapley, but they have had anything but so far this year.
Recently, SDSU took the 2013 Direct TV Wooden Classic crown after wins against College of Charleston, Creighton and Marquette. Victories against San Diego Christian and UC Riverside make up the remaining of San Diego State’s win total this season. The Aztecs only loss was at the hands of the No. 2 ranked Arizona Wildcats, who are next in line to assume to top spot of the AP poll after Michigan State’s loss to North Carolina last night.
In addition to an impressive resume, SDSU has a roster chockfull of talent. Xavier Thames is San Diego State’s go to scorer. The senior point guard is averaging 17.2 points this season. Thames is the only guard in the Aztecs starting five, with O’Brien, Davis, Shepard and Davis all being forwards. He is primarily a shoot-first guard, who doesn’t rack up the assists due to the team’s offensive style that is not dependent on a primary ball handler and passer.
As alluded to before, San Diego State features a great deal of beef down low. Josh Davis, a graduate-student transfer from Tulane, is putting up solid scoring and rebounding numbers this season (7.8 PPG, 8.5 RPG) and is a threat to record a double-double any given game. JJ O’Brien is a versatile forward that can score in a plethora of different ways. Shepard is a long, athletic slasher who is dynamic in transition. SDSU is not necessarily a “big” team, but they have a lot of height and versatility.
Redshirt freshman Matt Shigley has provided a nice offensive punch for the Aztecs this season. He is averaging 8.8 points in 17.8 minutes this season.
Due to tough competition, the Aztecs have been forced into a great deal of grudge matches with limited scoring and possessions. However, SDSU is at its best when it is out in transition due to its athleticism. To add to that, the Aztecs have shown they can play at any tempo this season and still excel.
Keys to the Game
San Diego State is bigger, stronger, faster and quicker. There is no working around that.
With that being said, do the Toreros have a chance? You betcha. Because it’s a rivalry game and anything can happen, and San Diego possesses enough talent to do so. The Toreros will need to play a certain underdog style in order to upset San Diego State:
Get Hot From Deep
Nothing is more infuriating than being torched from the perimeter. San Diego can frustrate the Aztecs tonight if they knock down a great deal of three’s that get the crowd into it. Expect Johnny Dee and Duda Sanadze to be firing from deep
Believe You Can Win
Lady fortune has not been on USD’s side in this rivalry game in recent years. However, as I stated before, there is no reason why San Diego cannot win this game. This Torero squad is improved from those of years past, and feature one of the best backcourts on the entire West Coast. USD will need to trust its talent in this contest, and come into the game with a confident mindset.