Hapless Tigers hope to claw way past streaking Aztecs

Two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum meet in southern California on Monday night, as the Tigers of Texas Southern come calling on the San Diego State Aztecs.

Texas Southern has just one win to its credit, that coming in a 74-71 verdict at home against Louisiana on Nov. 16, and the team has lost six games, only two of which have been by single digits. One of those setbacks came last Thursday in an 85-80 double-overtime affair at No. 19 Colorado. TSU will open Southwestern Athletic Conference action on Jan. 2, 2013 at Southern.

San Diego State opened the 2012-13 campaign with a 62-49 loss to Syracuse, but has reeled off five straight victories since, including a 78-69 decision versus UCLA in Anaheim this past Saturday. The Aztecs have claimed victory in their last 18 games in the month of December, which is the third-longest active streak in the nation behind only Syracuse (24) and Missouri (21), and if they post a winning record this month, it would mark the 22nd straight for the club. SDSU opens Mountain West Conference play on Jan. 9, 2013 at Fresno State.

San Diego State won the only previous matchup between these two teams, taking a 79-64 decision in Austin, Texas on Dec. 6, 1991.

Omar Strong drained nine three-pointers on his way to 39 points, but that effort went for naught as Texas Southern fell at Colorado in double-overtime by a scant five points. Fred Sturdivant logged a double-double consisting of 12 points and 11 rebounds, and he added five blocks, but the Tigers shot just 38.4 percent from the floor while suffering a crippling 33-12 deficit in points from the foul line. TSU held a double-digit lead early in the second half, but the team made good on only 21.4 percent of its field goal attempts in the frame to allow the Buffaloes to mount their comeback. Strong's effort was out of character for a guy who averaged just 8.8 ppg heading into the contest, and Raymond Penn (15.3 ppg), the only current player for Texas Southern to average double digits in the scoring column, had only five points as he missed seven of his nine field goal attempts. TSU's outburst against CU was its best of the season, and it was only the second time in which the team exceeded 70 points.

San Diego State's recent win over UCLA, its first over the Bruins since 1940, coupled with their victory over USC six days earlier, means it has won its last 11 games against teams that currently call the Pac-12 Conference home. The Aztecs got 28 points from Jamaal Franklin, 19 from Xavier Thames (five treys) and 12 from Deshawn Stephens, as they shot an even 50 percent from the field, draining 11-of-27 three-point tries along the way. UCLA managed just 42.2 percent shooting despite making good on 40 percent of its long-range attempts, and SDSU scored eight more points in the paint than did the Bruins while also logging a 13-7 edge in points from the foul line. Franklin (20.2 ppg, 10.0 rpg) has scored in double figures in 27 consecutive games, and is the only player in the country averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per tilt. Thames (10.3 ppg) and Chase Tapley (11.2 ppg) round out the double-digit scorers for a team that is averaging 70.5 ppg behind typical shooting outputs of .404 overall and .297 from beyond the arc. Fortunately, opponents are hitting just 36.0 percent of their total shots, which includes a dismal 26.5 percent effort on their three-point launches. Goading foes into nearly 16 turnovers per outing has certainly helped SDSU's cause.