Now ranked 25th in the latest AP Poll, the San Diego State Aztecs shoot for their first win of the new season as they play host to the Hawks of San Diego Christian at Viejas Arena on Tuesday night.
Originally slated to tip off the 2012-13 schedule on Friday night with a bout against ninth-ranked Syracuse on the deck of the U.S.S. Midway in San Diego, the Aztecs had to push that meeting back to Sunday due to weather concerns. Because of the switch, the Hawks and Aztecs had to change their scheduled date from Sunday to Tuesday.
San Diego State, a team which made it to the NCAA Tournament last year under head coach Steve Fisher, struggled two days ago against the Orange and eventually bowed in a 62-49 decision.
As for the Hawks, a team which competes in the Golden State Athletic Conference at the NAIA level, they have several California-based Division I programs on their schedule this season, but those are considered exhibitions for SDCC. Aside from losing to UC Riverside and San Diego by double digits, the team also lost to Simpson College in their season opener, 95-89.
Not surprisingly, the Aztecs have won both previous meetings between the two teams, the most recent coming last season by a score of 83-52 when SDSU was also among the nationally ranked.
Against Simpson College, four of five starters for the Hawks scored in double figures and still that wasn't good enough for the hosts in El Cajon. Kevin Dawson, Kwaminique Brandon and Raphael Rodriguez each tallied 18 points, combining to shoot an impressive 8-of-17 behind the three-point line as the team connected on 11-of-25 out on the perimeter overall. Andy Saharan added 11 points as the team built a 54-38 lead at the break but saw it disappear in the second half as the visitors turned up the pressure on defense and scored 20 points off turnovers. Overall, SDCC suffered 19 costly miscues which prevented the hosts from landing in the win column. Playing a bit too physical also counted against the Hawks as Simpson went to the free-throw line 34 times and outscored SDCC by a 24-16 margin at the charity stripe.
Due to less-than-ideal weather conditions aboard the decommissioned U.S.S. Midway, the only way to score consistently was to take the ball to the basket and only the Orange were built for that. The wind was so rough that SDSU ended up making just one of 18 attempts behind the three-point line and a feeble 14- of-33 at the charity stripe. Clearly Syracuse recognized the circumstances and adjusted accordingly, taking just four shots from beyond the arc. Jamaal Franklin, regarded as one of the top players in the Mountain West Conference, certainly didn't look the part on Sunday as he shot just 3-of-12 from the floor, 5-of-12 at the charity stripe and missed all six of his triples as he finished with 11 points. Add to that seven turnovers and just a single assist, and Franklin's eight rebounds and three steals seemed inconsequential. Xavier Thames (three points) and Chase Tapley (eight) combined to shoot a mere 4- of-24 from the floor.