Winners of 10 straight games, the 18th-ranked San Diego State Aztecs are back in action on Sunday as they challenge the Indiana State Sycamores in the semifinal round of the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Since losing to Syracuse in the season opener, the Aztecs have been unstoppable, winning the majority of their games by double digits. On Saturday, it was more of the same for San Diego State as it dismissed San Francisco by a comfortable 80-58 margin. Not only are the Aztecs enjoying a 10-game win streak at the moment, the fourth-longest in program history, but the squad has also won 23 consecutive games played in the month of December, the second-longest run in the nation.
As for the Sycamores, they were stretched beyond 40 minutes on Saturday, taken to overtime by Ole Miss, where they eventually slipped by in the 87-85 final. The win was the second in a row and the second overtime affair for the program in the last four outings, the other being a 77-68 loss to New Mexico, another Mountain West Conference foe, earlier this month.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, the Sycamores have won all three previous encounters with SDSU, although the teams have not met since 1967. The Aztecs have an all-time record of just 10-29 versus teams from the Missouri Valley Conference.
The winner of this meeting will go up against the survivor of the Arizona/Miami-Florida contest in the title game on Christmas Day.
Indiana State knocked down all six shots at the free-throw line in overtime, including a pair of Jake Odum with 11 seconds remaining in order to give the team enough of a lead to hold on for the two-point win against Ole Miss. Odum, who accounted for all six of those conversions at the charity stripe in the extra session, finished with 16 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as all five starters scored in double figures. Manny Arop tallied a team-best 27 points, Justin Gant and R.J. Mahurin 12 apiece and Dawon Cummings 10 points. Gant also hit the glass for a team-best 11 rebounds as well. Odum, now 58- of-77 (.753) at the charity stripe, is scoring a team-best 15.6 ppg and is also first on the team with 42 assists and 13 steals over nine starts. Arop (13.4 ppg) accounts for close to seven rebounds per game, but isn't nearly as efficient passing the ball with a mere five dishes, against 24 turnovers at the moment.
Chase Tapley was the star of the show for the Aztecs on Saturday as he exploded for a career-high 33 points in the easy win against San Francisco, yet another team from the state of California that SDSU has conquered. Tapley made good on 13-of-19 shots from the floor, including 6-of-10 behind the 3- point line as the team converted 10-of-19 on the perimeter. Jamaal Franklin was back in action and scored a conservative 11 points, to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and a couple of steals, while Xavier Thames and Deshawn Stephens tacked on 10 points apiece, the latter adding a team-best eight rebounds as well. Tapley, the leading scorer for SDSU in three of the last four games, is now up to 15.8 ppg as he converts 48.3 percent of his shots beyond the arc, compared to 48.7 percent from the floor overall. Franklin leads the group in both scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounding (9.4 rpg) which is to be expected for a player who is regarded as the best in the league this season.