Winners of 24 straight games against teams from the state of California, the 25th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs try their luck once more on Sunday night as they challenge the USC Trojans.
The Aztecs continued their run of success against Golden State squads earlier this season when they easily crushed San Diego Christian at home in a 91-57 final. After that, SDSU defeated Missouri State on the road and then dominated Arkansas-Pine Bluff earlier this week in a 79-43 decision to move to 3-1 on the campaign.
Meanwhile, the Trojans are aiming for their first 3-0 start at home since 2009, having already taken out Coppin State and Long Beach State. However, since those back-to-back victories to tip off the campaign, USC has dropped two of three outings, including a 72-64 final versus Marquette as part of the Maui Invitational last Wednesday.
The Trojans lead the all-time series by a count of 10-2, but San Diego State snapped a five-game slide in the series with a 56-54 win at home last season.
Shooting only 36.8 percent from the field and a miserable 15.3 percent behind the three-point line heading into the meeting with Arkansas-Pine Bluff earlier in the week, the Aztecs emerged with much better accuracy as they captured the 36-point win. Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley both scored 16 points, the latter hitting on 5-of-8 shots behind the three-point line, while Skylar Spencer chipped in 12 points in a reserve role. Getting the job done in the paint was DeShawn Stephens who registered the first double-double of his career with 11 points and 10 boards. Playing 31 minutes per game in the early going Franklin, who is considered one of the top performers in the Mountain West Conference, is averaging a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds per outing. Franklin also has seven blocked shots and nine steals, but that doesn't make up for his 20 turnovers and 4-of-20 accuracy out on the perimeter.
Trailing by double figures at the break against Marquette in their final appearance out in Maui, the Trojans closed the gap to a single point in the second half but could do no better as they suffered the eight-point loss. J.T. Terrell led USC with 21 points, hitting on 5-of-9 beyond the arc, followed by Byron Wesley and Eric Wise with 12 and 11 points, respectively, the latter coming up a rebound shy of a double-double. Jio Fontan accounted for nine of the unit's 16 assists, but he shot a mere 1-of-8 from the floor as he finished with seven points. Terrell is leading the team in scoring overall with his 13.6 ppg, but he's made good on only 32.8 percent of his shots from the floor. Wise checks in with 10.8 ppg as the only other double-digit scorer for the Trojans, the big difference being that he is hitting on 52.4 percent of his field goal chances. Fontan (7.4 ppg) has handed out more than five assists per game, which is good because his field goal shooting is difficult to swallow right now at only 22.0 percent.