Marquette battles San Diego State for Wooden crown

Anaheim, CA ( - The title in the Wooden Legacy is on the line tonight at the Honda Center, as the San Diego State Aztecs go up against the 25th-ranked Marquette Golden Eagles.

For the first time in school history, the Aztecs are facing off against Big East Conference opponents in back-to-back contests after taking down Creighton on Friday in an 86-80 final. The win over the Bluejays, a team which made the move to the Big East from the Missouri Valley Conference just this season, was the third in a row for SDSU and the fourth in five games overall.

As for the Golden Eagles, a squad which has fallen to both Ohio State and Arizona State already this season, they've bounced back with consecutive victories over Cal State Fullerton (86-66) and George Washington (76-60) at Titan Gym on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

With respect to the all-time series between these two schools on the hardwood, the Golden Eagles have won all three of the previous meetings, dating all the way back to the first encounter in 1948. The last conflict took place in 1975 at the San Diego Sports Arena when 13th-ranked Marquette posted a 58-54 triumph.

Limiting the Colonials to just eight field goals in the first half on Friday, Marquette cruised out to a sizeable first-half lead as it captured the double- digit victory. Davante Gardner stepped up with 20 points and nine rebounds off the bench for the Golden Eagles, while Jake Thomas pitched in with 13 points as the leading scorer among the starters. Derrick Wilson and Juan Anderson chipped in with 11 and 10 points, respectively, the latter accounting for nine rebounds as well.

Gardner may be a reserve for the Golden Eagles, but that may just be a formality as he leads the team in scoring with 15.1 ppg as he plays in excess of 24 minutes per contest. Shooting 51.4 percent from the field, Gardner is also tops on the glass with close to seven boards per game. Todd Mayo, who scored eight points in the last outing, is responsible for 10.8 ppg, followed by Jamil Wilson with his 10.7 ppg. Marquette is scoring 72.7 ppg in spite of a mere 28.8 percent effort beyond the arc.

Down by 12 points just minutes into the first half against Creighton, the Aztecs rebounded in a big way with a 22-point swing by the end of the period, en route to the six-point victory. Xavier Thames tallied 26 points for SDSU, one of five players in double figures as he converted 4-of-5 behind the 3- point line. Winston Shepard registered a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, followed by JJ O'Brien with 15 points and seven boards before fouling out. Off the bench the Aztecs got a lift from Dwayne Polee (11 points) and Matt Shrigley (10).

A 52.4 percent shooter beyond the arc over five games, Thames is the leading scorer for the Aztecs with his 15.2 ppg, followed by O'Brien who has turned in 13.8 ppg and is second on the unit with 5.8 rpg. Shepard (12.6 ppg) completes the list of double-digit scorers for an SDSU group that is beating the opposition by an average of 21.0 ppg on the strength of 44.4 percent accuracy on the perimeter, compared to just 28.1 percent shooting on the outside by the competition.