Laramie, WY (SportsNetwork.com) - San Diego State tries to set a new program record with its 21st consecutive win tonight, as the fifth-ranked Aztecs drop in on the Wyoming Cowboys for a Mountain West Conference clash at Arena Auditorium.
This season has become one of considerable streaks for the Aztecs, who have won every single game since losing to Arizona (69-60) at home back on Nov. 14. With 20 straight wins, San Diego State has the third-longest run in the nation currently behind only top-ranked Syracuse, and a 25-0 Wichita State program which has the most wins of any team in the country.
On Saturday, the Aztecs turned the ball over a mere four times, setting a new Division I record for the squad, as they posted a 73-58 win over visiting Nevada at Viejas Arena. San Diego State is now a perfect 10-0 in conference play for the first time in school history (93 years) and heads into tonight's clash having posted 10 straight wins on the road/neutral floors which is the second-longest run in school history as well.
While SDSU stands alone at the top of the conference standings, the Cowboys are squeezed somewhere in the middle with a split of 10 MWC bouts. Wyoming has fought hard over the last two weeks against league foes, but has dropped two in a row and three of the last four after bowing to UNLV in a close call on Saturday, 48-46, at the Thomas & Mack Center.
San Diego State has won six of the last seven meetings with the Cowboys, with the only setback during that run coming in Laramie last season, 58-45. Another positive sign for the Pokes in this meeting is that the Aztecs have won just eight of the 33 meetings played in Wyoming during the series.
Overall, it is Wyoming that is holding a 38-35 advantage in a relationship that began back in 1979.
Xavier Thames tied for the game high with 17 points for the Aztecs as they picked apart Nevada at home over the weekend, followed by Winston Shepard with 16 points. The team shot better than 50 percent from the floor in the meeting, but was just 3-of-13 behind the 3-point line. The Aztecs also claimed a major advantage at the free-throw line where they outscored the Wolf Pack by a 20-9 margin, getting off twice as many attempts (26) as the visitors.
In conference play, the Aztecs have stepped up and held opponents to just 30.0 percent shooting from 3-point range, resulting in only 60.9 ppg for those foes. Granted, the 9.5 ppg advantage in the scoring column against MWC opponents is not as great as the 16.8 ppg on the season overall, but still the team is making the necessary plays at both ends of the floor. Thames is posting 21.1 ppg and has handed out 29 assists in those 10 games, followed by Shepard (13.3 ppg) and Josh Davis (8.8 ppg), the latter also clearing 11.0 rpg for good measure.
The Cowboys had a golden opportunity to, at the very least, send the meeting against UNLV into overtime and then perhaps get back into the win column, but a late jumper by Larry Nance Jr. fell off the rim and resulted in the two- point setback for Wyoming on Saturday. Nance Jr. finished with 12 points and nine rebounds, not to mention three blocked shots, followed by Riley Grabau with 11 points during a game in which the Pokes got off only 41 field goal attempts and shot 4-of-5 at the free-throw line.
Nance Jr., who has scored in double figures in all but four games this season, leads the program in scoring during MWC outings with 15.1 ppg, thanks in large part to his 88.4 percent accuracy at the charity stripe. The big man is also first on the glass with 8.2 rpg, but as a team the Cowboys are coming up 6.0 rpg short versus the competition. The most troubling stat for the Cowboys has them allowing 11.0 offensive rebounds per game, but themselves clearing just 4.7 per contest at that end of the floor.