Laramie, WY – Two of the top teams in the Mountain West ranked San Diego State Auditorium.
Steve Fisher's Aztecs are sitting atop the conference standings at 3-0. San Diego State is a stellar 17-2 on the season and brings a 10-game win streak into this contest. The team put on a defensive clinic in its last outing, knocking off Air Force on Saturday, 57-44, its 24th straight win against current MWC members.
Wyoming is right behind SDSU at 2-1 in-conference. Larry Shyatt's first season at the helm in Laramie has certainly been successful, with the Cowboys winning 16 of their first 19 games. The team has won two straight and five of its last six games including a 70-51 rout of Colorado State this past weekend.
Wyoming leads the all-time series 37-32, but San Diego State has won the last three meetings. A win tonight would match SDSU's longest win streak ever in this series (2002-03).
The Aztecs entered the week as one of just 10 teams in the nation with two or fewer losses. They have accomplished this with a balanced effort at both ends of the floor. San Diego State is shooting an efficient .469 from the field en route to 73.9 ppg. Defensively, SDSU is allowing just 61.6 ppg on .388 shooting and is outrebounding foes by five caroms per contest. Chase Tapley and Jamaal Franklin are a potent one-two punch at 16.6 and 15.4 ppg, respectively. Tapley is one of the MWC's top snipers, draining 46.5 percent from behind the arc (47-of-101). Franklin is the team's top rebounder at 6.6 per game. Xavier Thames (11.3 ppg) and James Rahon (10.2 ppg) provide further scoring depth. The Aztecs came out on top in a grind-it-out battle with Air Force over the weekend, holding the Falcons to a mere 44 points. Tapley led the way with 16 points. Franklin posted his fourth double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cowboys are at their best when they can impose their will on an opponent defensively. Wyoming is limiting foes to a mere 53.1 ppg this year (third nationally), holding them to just .384 shooting (17th nationally). The scoring pool isn't deep, but three of the five starters are averaging double figures. Luke Martinez leads the way with 13.3 ppg and is also tops on the team in steals (32). Leonard Washington is a close second at 12.9 ppg on the strength of .623 shooting. He also leads the team on the boards (6.7 rpg). Francisco Cruz rounds out the top threats at 12.3 ppg. The Cowboys once again displayed their defensive prowess in the recent win over Colorado State, limiting the Rams to a mere 19 first half points and then cruising to a 19-point victory. CSU had no answer for Washington, who erupted for 32 points and 14 rebounds, on 12-of-16 shooting. Martinez chipped in with 12 points in the win.