San Diego St.-Utah St. Preview
San Diego State has overcome some poor shooting by continuing to play great defense.
Looking for a 17th straight win, the No. 7 Aztecs hope to end their recent offensive struggles and maintain their defensive dominance Saturday night while trying for their first victory over a Utah State team that's been tough to beat at home.
Though San Diego State (17-1, 6-0 Mountain West Conference) has shot 38.7 percent in the last six games, it's allowed an average of 59.5 points on 37.3 percent shooting. Strong defensive play is expected from an Aztecs team that leads the nation in opponent field goal percentage (35.3), ranks second in average points allowed (55.4) and is among the top 15 in rebounds per contests (41.4).
"We have to do a better job of making more (shots), but our kids believe that if they guard and rebound the ball they'll get a chance to stay on the floor and we're going to win," coach Steve Fisher said. "We're pretty good at both."
The Aztecs shot 39.3 percent Wednesday, but held San Jose State to 33.3 percent shooting, scored 28 points off 18 turnovers and held a 46-36 advantage on the boards to win 75-50. Xavier Thames had 15 points and Josh Davis added 10 with 12 boards as San Diego State used a pair of 16-point runs in the second half to extend the school's longest win streak since the 2010-11 team started 20-0.
"They imposed their will in the second half," San Jose State coach Dave Wojcik said. "That's what they've done every game this year. They ratchet up that defensive pressure and force turnovers and ratchet up pressure on the backboard."
Davis ranks among the national leaders averaging 11.5 rebounds per game, and has totaled 24 points to go with 26 boards in the last two contests.
The Aztecs will look to improve to 6-0 on the road, and 7-0 in league play for the first time since 1966-67 when they were a member of the California Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Facing Utah State (12-6, 2-4) on the road for the first time since December 1962, San Diego State has lost each of the previous three meetings in the series but hasn't played the Aggies since a 63-60 home defeat Nov. 24, 1998.
Hoping to rebound after dropping two straight road games, Utah State has posted its only Mountain West victories at home where it also beat USC by 13 points and Mississippi State by 19 en route to a 10-1 record. The Aggies are shooting 49.6 percent at home, and have allowed an average of 55.0 points on 35.8 percent shooting in their last four there.
Utah State has lost seven straight games against ranked opponents but beat then-No. 10 Nevada 79-77 in overtime March 1, 2007, the last time it hosted a Top 25 team.
Six-foot-10 Jarred Shaw averages a team-leading 16.1 points and was the only Aggie to score in double figures with 14 during Wednesday's 62-42 loss at UNLV. Utah State shot a season-low 30.8 percent and went 2 of 17 from 3-point range.