San Diego St.-Air Force Preview

A highly anticipated Mountain West showdown is on the horizon

for San Diego State, but coach Steve Fisher is trying to get his

team not to look past its game this weekend.

The sixth-ranked Aztecs will try to set a school record for wins

and remain atop their conference after traveling to Air Force on

Saturday.

San Diego State (26-1, 11-1) has a chance to avenge its lone

loss Feb. 26 against No. 7 BYU, but Fisher knows his team has

plenty of work to do at Air Force (13-11, 4-7).

San Diego State didn’t take a comfortable lead during its 68-55

win over the Falcons on Jan. 19 until a late 13-3 run. Billy White

had 10 of his 12 points during that spurt, and D.J. Gay scored a

team-best 20.

Tom Fow had 21 points for Air Force, which shot 51.2 percent and

was 6 of 11 from 3-point range.

“(The previous game against Air Force) was hard if you go back

and look,” Fisher said. “They will play with a pace that’s atypical

and we must be ready for that. When they shoot the ball, they can

beat anybody.”

The past two games might have San Diego State prepared for any

difficulties. The Aztecs trailed by a point last Saturday at UNLV

with 3:07 remaining before pulling out a 63-57 victory and had a

double-digit lead cut to four with 1:20 left in Wednesday’s 68-62

home win over New Mexico.

With that victory, San Diego State matched the win total of its

2008-09 squad, which finished 26-10.

“New Mexico willed their way back in. That’s the nature of what

we’re going to see from here on out. We have to be prepared,”

Fisher said.

The Falcons enter this matchup having averaged 49.3 points on

36.4 percent shooting over the past three games. They recorded

their season scoring low in Tuesday’s 49-42 defeat at UNLV.

Michael Lyons, who is scoring a team-best 12.6 points per game,

was one of two players in double figures with 12 points. Fow is the

only other player averaging more than 10.0 points (12.2 ppg).

Air Force, losers in seven of 10 and three of four at home,

hasn’t fared much better during a six-game slide to San Diego

State. The Falcons fell 61-42 in last season’s matchup in Colorado

and have been outscored by an average of 63.0-45.3 over the past

six meetings.

Kawhi Leonard and Malcolm Thomas had 18 points apiece in the

previous trip to Air Force, and they might get some help in this

game with two other players having almost recovered from

injuries.

Starting guard Chase Tapley played 20 minutes against New Mexico

after sitting out the previous two games with an ankle injury.

Reserve forward Tim Shelton was limited to four minutes because of

his ailing right foot but said he was feeling better Thursday.

“We understand that anybody in our league can beat anybody,”

Shelton said. “Our crowd can feel the excitement, and feel

confident in us. They want BYU, but we want Air Force. We have to

go over there and get that one first.”

San Diego State leads the series 45-20 and is 16-13 at Air

Force.