Point Loma-San Diego St. Preview

San Diego State has had a relatively easy time going undefeated

since losing its season opener.

With a new addition in the mix, that should not change when the

No. 18 Aztecs try for a ninth straight victory Tuesday night

against nearby Point Loma Nazarene.

San Diego State (8-1) has bounced back nicely after shooting

27.0 percent in a 62-49 loss to then-No. 9 Syracuse on the flight

deck of the USS Midway on Nov. 11. With notable victories coming

over Southern California and UCLA, the Aztecs are averaging 75.5

points while winning eight in a row by a margin of 17.9.

Chase Tapley scored 15 points and fellow guard Jamaal Franklin

added 14 as the Aztecs shook off an eight-day layoff to shoot 52.0

percent in Saturday’s 72-56 win over city rival San Diego.

“We were anxious to play. We hadn’t played a game in a long

time,” said Tapley, who has averaged 18.0 points on 56.3 percent

shooting in the last three games. “We wanted to come out and

compete and really jump on them from the start on defense. This

week we were really putting an emphasis on defense.”

While San Diego State has shot 50.9 percent in four games this

month after making 38.7 percent in five November contests, its

commitment to defense has keyed the team’s early success. Following

the loss to Syracuse, Aztec opponents are averaging 57.6 points and

shooting 37.0 percent – including 30.7 from 3-point range.

“Their length is going to bother a lot of people,” said San

Diego coach Bill Grier, whose team shot 38.3 percent. “They force

you to rush shots because of their length.”

The Aztecs could get even better on the defensive end with the

addition of 6-foot-9 James Johnson. A sophomore transfer from

Virginia, Johnson is expected to make his long-awaited debut

Tuesday after arriving at San Diego State last December. Though he

recorded nine points and eight boards in 37 minutes over six games

for the Cavaliers last season, Johnson’s size and potential

intrigues coach Steve Fisher.

“We are going to have another big body in a spot that if you

say, ‘where do we need the most help in: size,'” Fisher said. “So

we have size and strength. He’s big and strong.

“He has not played competitively in a long time, so I think it

will be nice that we’ll be able to give him an opportunity to play

a little bit.”

Johnson likely will see some extended minutes Tuesday as the

Aztecs try for a 22nd straight December victory. Though this

contest will count toward San Diego State’s season record, it’s an

exhibition for Point Loma Nazarene (2-6), loser of four in a

row.

A member of the National Christian College Athletic Association

and located approximately 15 miles from the San Diego State campus,

Point Loma is facing the Aztecs for the first time since an 88-77

loss Dec. 3, 2005.

In Saturday’s 68-58 loss to Dixie State, sophomore guard Judd

Welfringer had 22 points on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range. The

Drake transfer came in with one point in one game after missing the

first six contests with an injury.